It really is amazing the things that keep me up at night. As a light sleeper, I am woken up fairly easily and can usually go back to bed quickly. Yet, if I have a lot on my mind it can prove much more difficult. This has been the case lately. The myriad of noises pulling me out of my slumber range from a cat sucking on her fur, a verrrrry long dog drink out of the toilet, or the neighbor’s dog behind us that loves to start barking at 3:00 a.m. because we have a nest of coyotes living in an abandoned house nearby. Yep, it happens all the time.
In my waking hours it’s a bit easier to analyze the things that are keeping me up, but I start to have anxiety about being up at 2:25 a.m. and thinking about what I’m going to pack for my upcoming trip or whether I’m going to have everything ready for a client meeting that week or what color I want to use for the kitchen backsplash. One night in particular it seemed like I was up for 3 or more hours just lying there with my eyes closed and “thinking.” This makes for a long workday and triggers all kinds of other issues – needing coffee late in the day to stay awake, not feeling good physically so it’s hard to concentrate, and generally wishing the day was over so I could get – you guessed it – some sleep.
The interesting thing about this latest sleeping phenomenon is that it reminds me of when it was a regular occurrence. Years ago I struggled with sleep so much that I would have a very hard time staying awake at work — to the point that I would sleep under my boss’s desk during lunch. I would literally crawl under the desk, get into a ball and nap for about 45 minutes. Sometimes, if I was lucky and got there before anyone else, I would catch some z’s on the couch in the women’s bathroom. Today, I just dream of having a couch in my office. I’ve heard some people swear that their key to success is a short afternoon nap. I believe this. Then there’s the Bill Murray 60-second nap, but I’ve never been able to master that.
Not one to enjoy sleep deprivation, I will try almost anything short of a sleeping pill to sleep through the night. What I have found is that if I am using the tricks that I have been taught to stay centered, I can most likely avoid this brain churning at 3 a.m. The first item of business is to write and write and write some more about what’s bothering me. As I mentioned yesterday, writing morning pages is an excellent way to empty my head. Then there’s meditation – even 10 minutes of it can change my perspective. While I’ve always thought that the “right” way to meditate was to do it in morning, when I’ve done it at night it helps me to get centered before bed. There are a number of apps that are great to start a practice and have some cool guided meditations that include specific meditations for relaxing at night – check out omvana and calm to name a couple. Lastly, talking to someone about the fears (and they are almost always fears) that are keeping me up or just simply taking the action on the list to remove an item from my plate will go a long way toward a restful sleep.