Last night I had a hard time sleeping. That is not unusual for me. I am a menopausal woman and need to go to the bathroom at least once in the middle of the night. And my mind doesn’t seem to stop just because it’s bedtime. My mind is working all day long and often has the most clarity when I am lying in bed in the middle of the night. Rather than focus on how many hours of sleep I am getting, I focus on how many hours of rest my body and mind are getting. Thinking that I need x amount of hours of sleep and then looking at the clock and panicking because I SHOULD be sleeping just creates anxiety. Instead I lie there and relax. Sometimes I count up to 100 forward and then back down to 1, while focusing on my breath. That little exercise often does not get finished. Somewhere around the 35 on the way backward, I am fast asleep. Sometimes I listen to tranquil music on my I-Touch as I count or meditate. Other times that doesn’t work. If I am still partially awake, I close my eyes and pray. Sometimes during those prayers, I may ask for clarity with a question on my mind. I am a dreamer, so inevitably my dreams give me messages. I dream almost every night. There are mornings I wake up and feel like I have been busy all night. I used to record my dreams and have a year of dreams journalled. Other times I actually will keep my regular journal by my bedside and journal insights at night. Although, sometimes the next morning these notes may make no sense, like the comic below of Confucius in the Morning. Other times my notes can be quite inspiring.
Anyway, I guess what I want to say is to relax about not sleeping. You will do your body and mind more good if you think of nighttime as a time when wonderful things can happen while you relax. By letting go of the stress of making sleep happen, just relax and pray, or listen to quiet music, or focus on your breath, or journal until you are too tired to write, or read a chapter of the book at your bedside. I don’t recommend watching television, for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is usually nothing all that inspirational on in the middle of the night, and you are likely to fall asleep with the television on and wake up again with the noise or reminder to turn it off.
Think of bedtime as relaxation time. The whole purpose of sleep is to rest your body and mind after a day’s activities. The goal is rest, relaxation, and release of tension.
It is best to be in bed at the same time each night, and to wake up refreshed each day. Instead of counting the hours of sleep, count the hours you actually were able to release tension and relax.
Two hours of meditation and relaxation is better than eight hours of restless sleep.
When I woke up this morning, after a night of using several of the ideas I suggested, a small but mighty voice said to me “Focus on helping more people.”
I hope this was helpful to you,