Sleep should be natural, it cannot be forced; once we force sleep, sleep doesn't happen. So what can you do to ensure that you can fall asleep easily at night?
If you have read my previous article, you may have learned why it's hard for people to fall asleep nowadays. So in this one, I am going to share with you HOW to have better sleep at night:
1. Do not worry about the sleepless night from yesterday, or the day before
A lot of people have this tendency: When they have experienced a night or two of not being able to sleep; when bed time comes, they become fearful and worry that they might have the same problem again. When you worry that you cannot sleep, you are only creating the sleeping problem. Remember, worrying is a 'danger' signal sent to the body by the brain (created by thoughts). Your worry of NOT being able to sleep will only cause your body to be alert and there you go, another sleepless night.
If your thoughts are creating the worrying emotions and fight-or-flight response of the body, don't you think you can also use your thoughts to creating pleasant emotions and turn on the sleeping mode of the body?
Yes you can! When you are preparing yourself to sleep, NEVER think about 'what if i can't sleep tonight'! As you are lying on your bed, try to really feel how comfortable your pillow and bed are; then smile and say to yourself in your mind "This is so comfortable, I am going to have a gooood deep sleep". Say it slowly, in a drowsy lazy manner (even if you are not drowsy yet). Repeat a few time when you feel like it, remember to say it slowly.
2. Ask the ruminating thoughts in your mind to come back tomorrow morning
Sometimes, it is inevitable that thoughts surface as soon as you close your eyes and attempt to sleep. It's almost like the moment the eyes are shut, the to-do-list suddenly pop up and you realized just how much things are not done. Thoughts can be very annoying, I know.
But fret not, this can be changed, IF you want to. As you are attempting to sleep and thoughts pop up, you should be able to control your mind because your mind belongs to you. When thoughts surface, all you need to do is to say to those thoughts:" I don't want to think about this now, I will think about it tomorrow, let's sleep".
If the thoughts continue to surface (and it WILL surface because your brain circuit is not entirely changed yet), take 5 deep breaths in and out slowly. As you breath in, focus to your belly expanding, and as you breath out sense your belly going down. Just bring all of your focus to your breathing and the belly moving. And when you are done with all 5 (breathing), again say this is your mind: "I am so sleepy now, I can fall asleep soon", or "my bed and pillow are so comfortable, I can sleep now" in a drowsy soft manner.
You have to intentionally create this self-talk in your mind otherwise, the self-talk would automatically be talk about "what I should do tomorrow", "why is this boss so difficult to please", "when is my money coming in" etc; it will never end, and your sleepless night will never end ...
3. If thoughts still stubbornly surface, then turn to the body for help
If your thoughts are still loud and you don't seem to have any control over it even with the ways shared above, that means the activity in your brain is too high, it cannot slow down. Then, don't focus to it or give more energy to it; turn to your body for help instead.
When you are lying on your bed, your body is comfortable laying there feeling exhausted not wanting to move, but the brain, like a small kid, doesn't seem to know when to stop; it just want to be active. So this is a good chance to trick your brain to slowly down, here's how:
Take 5 deep breath in and out slowly like the instruction from above. Once you are done with all 5 deep breathing, bring all your focus to your feet, sense how your feet is positioning on your bed. Done with that? Move on to sense and focus to your calves and knees. Thank them for standing all day long or sitting. And continue to move on to your thighs, hips, lower back, kidneys, intestines, bladder, reproductive organs, liver, stomach, pancreas, lungs, heart, mouth, eyes, nose, ears; everything that exist in this body you own, all the way up to the top of your head.
(Not sure where are you organs or what organs you have? You can refer to the picture below. If you don't know their names, that's ok. Just sense their presence is good enough!)
When you bring all attention to your body, just feeling their presence; you allow the body to do it's work by letting the brain know that: "Hey, I need to do some repairing and balancing work here, can you focus to me?"
When the brain receives signal from the body (instead of your thoughts of what's going to happen tomorrow), it will start to slow down and attend solely to the body's need. And very quickly, you will start to feel sleepy because the brain activity has began to slow down and enter the repairing-mode. When the brain and body enter repairing mode, both body and mind have to be relax for the repairing and balancing work to begin.
So if the brain is not taking your instruction and continue to do what it use to do - worrying by having too much thoughts, then it's good to turn to your body for help; just bring all attention and focus to each and every organs, they will signal your brain to slow down.
Try, with patience, you will see changes in your sleeping pattern. Remember, do not expose yourself to bright light before you sleep. You are preventing the sleeping hormones from secreting. Try to keep your room deem before you sleep to prime your body and mind that you are ready to rest and sleep.
Sleep is natural, your body knows best what to do. Turn to it for wisdom and sleep can naturally occur.
Have a good sleep tonight!