Last night at 12 am 3 am and 4am there were unidentified noises coming from our walls. Sort of like a rat building a nest or a dog shoveling dirt. Whatever the source the night was restless. I had cups of tea and banana at 3. Worked on an essay at 4 had another sleep attempt at 5 and waited for the alarm at 6. Yahhh. Here are some things I learnt about sleep while I wasn’t.
1) Dropping off like a light doesn’t necessarily mean you are a great sleeper. It just means you go to sleep quickly. Worrying about going to sleep quickly however will interfere with the natural ability to fall asleep.
2) If you wake up in the night don’t curse yourself. This is not the kind yogic practice of Ahimsa. Instead of being annoyed with yourself take a few minutes to listen to your breath, and scan you body. It is more likely you will go back to sleep if you treat the wake up as something that has happened naturally, not something else to beat yourself up about. It is our reaction to our reaction that keeps us awake.
3) Using sleep as a means to an end, ie to not feel tired in the morning is viewing sleep from a functional view. If you do this you are more likely to be annoyed when you do wake up and panic if you are not getting enough sleep. Instead view it as a spiritual vacation from you busy day.
4) Using an alarm is conterproductive. It can wake you when you are in deep sleep therefore you will feel more tired. Digital ones also produce light. Light is thought to reduce the production of melatonin which is the sleep drug.
5) If your last thoughts for the night are ‘ What I am doing the next day’ then you are setting yourself up for anxiety ridden sleep. Instead journal this an hour before you go to bed.
6) It doesn’t hurt too much if you have a bad night. You will catch up the next day so try not to fret about not having enough energy the next day.
7) If when you wake your cognitive popcorn starts popping get out of bed and read or do something quietly in dim light. When you get the head bob that’s a signal to go to bed
8) If you are tired don’t fight going to sleep. Some of us feel we have to stay up later to get a good night’s sleep. This can induce a state of hyper arousal where you are tired but can’t sleep.
Practice for today: When we have problems in our life sometimes it is just a matter of changing how we view them. If we view our problems with open-hearted receptivity instead of repelling them they may just melt away. If we treat ourselves with more kindness when we do encounter roadblocks then we are not adding to our problem.
Reference: Dr Richard Niaman, University of Arizona Centre for Integrative Medicine.