“Have you ever had that happen to you?”
Almost laughed out loud when writing that… of course you have had that happen. It’s part and parcel of being an adult.
Especially those of the “shift work” crowd.
I’d like to offer you a few things that I have I learned along my journey to become a healthier human being.
Here’s an idea that I’d like you to consider… “Pain is a misunderstood friend, it doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, it is telling you what you need to hear.”
And so we avoid our friend, pain, at all costs. But just like Cameron’s friend… Ferris Bueller, “He’ll keep calling me, he’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty. This is uh… This is ridiculous, ok I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go. What – I’LL GO. Shit.”
That not sleeping thing… can be caused by a mental pain. Mental anguish. Mental stress.
When you can’t sleep, does your mind “race”?
Mine sure did.
I could never “just go to sleep”.
My mind would feel like a super fast toilet, swirling round n’ round, but never flushing. Having all sorts of garbage floating around, popping up, getting stuck, having recurring themes every night. I’d go to bed and lay there… staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, tossing and turning, tossing and turning… and turning and turning!
I’d get up, go to the kitchen, get a drink of water, just a sip, and then… stare out the window… looking out into the black, just to see what I could see. Sometimes turning the t.v. on, sometimes trying to use a book to fall asleep.
Then, about an hour before I would have to get up for work, I’d fitfully doze off.
“Aaauuggghh, damn alarm.”
I would hurt, all over my body, especially in my stomach, and I would have to, literally, “roll out of bed” and do “the zombie shuffle” while getting ready for work.
My healthy journey started, actually I think now I’ll be calling it, “my awareness journey”, in 2016.
Learning, understanding, and applying new knowledge… since then to today.
After learning, understanding, and applying these tactics, I was, and have been able to, get some quality sleep, that transfers positivity into all aspects of my life.
Now, I’ll tell what they are. But they are not fancy or new ideas. If you try them, don’t quit after two days. Give it a solid three week attempt. After three weeks reassess how you feel, and go forward from there.
- Get a notebook and a pen. On your first night, go to bed like normal. Do everything exactly the same. Then when your mind kicks in, sit up, grab the pen and pad, and just start writing down what your pain is showing you. Don’t “try” to do anything with it, or read it, or “fix” it… just write. It might look like this, “Ugh! I can’t sleep. Again. I should quit my job, Janet was a rag today, why did I buy a green car, I need to plant some flowers, how am I going to pay that hospital bill, I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep, I really don’t want to go in today, work sucks, I feel like crap, I wish I could fall…”
- Don’t eat or drink anything after 8pm.
- Start a new routine before just dropping into bed… just one thing for the first three week run. Maybe start by “scheduling” your nighttime routine, to help prepare your mind for bed.
- Get a calendar, to use as a visual aid… write down one or two notes a day on the calendar for the three week initial run. Even if you just use it to “check off” the days for three weeks.
- As a part of a new routine, shut off your phone, and grab a book, I don’t want to say, “boring” because books are not boring, but grab a book that you think is boring, and just start to read, for readings sake, and when your eyes get heavy… put the book down, snap the light off, and hit the hay.
- Use “Body Scan Relaxation”, my old understanding of “breathing” and “meditating” was that those were questionable “hippy” practices. Live and learn I guess. To do the body scan, get comfortable, laying flat on your back to start, now measure your breathing, don’t change it, you can take a nice deep one if you want to start, then exhale and “just notice” (be aware) of your breathing, focus on it, and then check in with your body starting with your toes. Then work your way up, slowly, “checking in” on your body and how it “feels”. [ I never make it past my knees now ]
These are the things that I have “tried and applied” that have… STUCK and provided positive feedback and… MOST IMPORTANTLY… have allowed me to get some great sleep.
As I write this article, I haven’t been able to sleep well since going through COVID. I haven’t exercised hard in the last week since recovering, and I have gotten back to work. “Holy hurtin’ body Batman! those first few days back to work were hard.” The third day we loosened up though.
I’m tired, sore, and my sleep is off.
How did I perceive all of that? My friend, “pain” let me know.
Now I can do something about it.
That’s been my biggest takeaway thus far since becoming “aware”… “I can now, do something about my current condition”.
My current mental health condition, my current physical condition, my current spiritual condition… if I’m aware of a pain, say… in my neck, I have learned that I now possess the ability to do something about it.
All the information we need is at our finger tips. Believing those who present it requires that we somehow find a way to believe them enough to give it an honest try.
Give it a whirl, for three weeks, what do you have to lose by trying?
You’ll be up anyway.