3 Habits To Help You Sleep Like Your Baby With No Worries
I'm not in the habit of writing WA posts very regularly, nor often and I have no intention of doing that, but today I was inspired to write a second post triggered by a comment someone made about having trouble sleeping.
I've often read posts from people in the WA community that suggest that the writer has trouble sleeping. If this is not you, you might not get much out of this post, unless you want to help someone else.
I have no trouble sleeping.
My wife has observed that I can sleep almost anywhere, almost anytime. She's right... almost anywhere, almost anytime. I try to explain, but she doesn't believe me when I explain, then complains the next day that she didn't get much sleep. Like many partners do I guess, she likes to blame it on my snoring. I'm not so sure she's right. That doesn't mean I don't think I snore... I probably do (although probably not as much as she claims), but (I'm sorry) Mrs B, so do you! Anyway...
I've not always been this way (able to sleep anywhere anytime I mean, what were you thinking?), and it's not because I'm chronically exhausted; funny enough that's because I get plenty of sleep!
Actually, I pride myself on always doing something useful. That includes when I'm sleeping which is, as you know, the most important health activity that we participate in. Sleeping is extremely useful.
It not only gives our hardworking conscious areas a rest (scientists reckon that the hardest work we ever do is conscious and creative thinking). The first 2 to 4 hours are used by our brains to clear out dead cells in and outside the body. Then the brain spends a few more hours creating more cells to replace the losses (including more brain cells) and packing them off to their respective places. Seven to eight hours per day of uninterrupted sleep is about right for most adults.
An obvious point perhaps, yet very important for efficiency and effectiveness, is that it's far easier to have the conscious mind work most of the time when awake if it has had enough sleep.
Subconscious And Conscious Minds Love Chatting
Here's the thing... sleeping is a function of shutting down the conscious mind. By that, I mean the parts of the brain that get used for active, conscious, deliberate thinking.
About 1980, through studying Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) I became interested in meditation and a little later, mindfulness.
For me that basically meant learning to relax the body, all over. Then for meditation purposes focusing on my breathing plus exclusively one subject at a time, and for mindfulness focusing on all senses at once, in the process reducing and controlling subconscious interruptions of any conscious thought.
Relaxing helped me get to sleep. However, I'd still wake up in the middle of the night. It was some years before I became aware enough to realise that when I woke up, 99 out of 100 times it was triggered by subconscious activity.
My subconscious would wake up my conscious mind for a chat in the middle of the night about something that it thought was important, and once awakened the conscious mind would join in, or more often than not attempting to do its creative thing.
What was most annoying was the subconscious habit of constantly repeating something that usually didn't need repeating. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience?
At around that time, a hectic work schedule led to me trying to find ways of organising my life so that I could get more done and achieve more of what I wanted. I started keeping lists. I noticed that most of the items on my lists became obsolete before I got around to getting them done. I also realised that obsoletion didn't matter (some things would have been a complete waste of time beyond any learning). So I started prioritising.
Making the effort to prioritise made a big difference. Stating the obvious perhaps, it helped me focus on the most important things (important to me anyway) and to ignore the rest until appropriate.
There was a surprising side effect. Over time my lists became a complete system for capturing everything that I thought about or that was given to me in one way or another. I came to realise that the list system decluttered my mind and combined with relaxing better helped me sleep.
There's an additional mindset that I implemented around the same time. I was working with a team of sailors, windsurfers and professional fishermen (a real motley crew) to figure out what was needed to create a water sports festival in the South of England. One day I told a friend I was having trouble sleeping. He asked what I was thinking about when I couldn't sleep. I outlined a number of things.
He then asked, what I could have done about those things in the middle of the night?
My considered answer, was actually, nothing!
I realised that when everybody was sleeping there was nothing practical I could do until the next day. So I told my subconscious mind that it was in its best interests to not wake up my consciousness when everybody else was asleep. I know it sounds bizarre, but it worked.
Despite the fact that nowadays I could get up and work on the internet in the middle of the night, my subconscious still cooperates at night. There was no point in worrying (like a dog worries a bone) when I can be sleeping. My subconscious seems to know that too.
In the previous paragraph, my subconscious mind became convinced of the value to itself of allowing my conscious mind to sleep until it was ready to wake up. That's been with me for about 35 years now. A very entrenched habit.
Deliberately learning to relax the body, and practising mindfulness sets the environment for me to sleep. (I am able to invoke mindfulness without sleeping too but that practice is slightly different).
What is most important is getting everything that comes my way "organised" simply by writing it down. All ideas and all things to do, or that I think I might want to do, get written down. It's an excellent way to empty the mind of clutter. Writing everything down, useful or not, helps to de-clutter. I use a synchronised phone and computer system for this.
In 2000 a "productivity expert", David Allen, published a book that I enjoyed immensely. I wish I'd written it. It's called GTD or Getting Things Done. It's not quite the same as my process, but similar and I'm sure it's just as effective. So if you want to learn more, his book is well worth reading (the Kindle version is great value for money).
The practice of de-cluttering every day seems to convince the subconscious that all is under control and there's nothing to worry about. There becomes no need for it to wake up your conscious mind in the middle of the night. By writing things down, the subconscious learns that it doesn't have to remind our conscious mind of things because it knows we can look it all up when we need it.
Our minds are clever like that. We need to be clever enough to take advantage of them in the most productive way. Being able to sleep like a baby (i.e. with no worries) is a big step in productivity.
There is an additional bonus. The conscious mind can only hold 3 to 5 items in memory at any one time. By constantly decluttering the conscious mind by writing things down, we find we are able to focus much more easily on the main thing in any moment and can be more consciously creative when necessary.
If you have anything to add, argue about or ask about, please do so in the comments.
Thank you for reading this far ..,