Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think Less. Sleep More.

Sleep is awesome. A good night’s rest can invigorate you and help start your day off feeling refreshed. Yet sometimes sleep is an elusive goal. Every so often I’ll have trouble falling asleep; it’s usually because I feel anxious or excited about something I have to do or a new project I’m working on. My brain doesn’t want to turn off and I can’t help but think thoughts that distract me from sleep.

There’s a time and place for everything, and while problem-solving thoughts do need to be processed, I know that bedtime is not the time to be doing it. But sometimes I can’t help myself and then I have to actively try and stop my thinking; I’ll tell myself, “Figure it out tomorrow. Relax. Go to sleep. Think of nothing.” And of course this thinking perpetuates more thinking, and I’ll tell myself, “Stop thinking. You’re still thinking. Stop thinking already.” It’s a vicious cycle and ultimately a losing battle, as once I start thinking it’s difficult to stop.

So then I have to make myself relax (which sounds like an oxymoron because it is one). If my mind doesn’t want to stop thinking, then I try to think of unimportant things that I don’t care about, like reciting the plot of a movie. Yet sometimes I still can’t fall asleep and then I have that moment (usually an hour or two after my initial attempt to sleep), when I have to decide to either continue to toss and turn and hope for sleep or to wake up and read a book. The smart choice for me is the latter, because reading almost always helps relax me since I’m filling my head with a story and clearing my mind of personal thoughts.

And this is what I did the other night when I couldn’t sleep, and I eventually fell asleep about an hour and a half later than usual. [Half-hearted: yay.] But for whatever reason, I then woke up a good hour before I normally do and couldn’t go back to sleep. This did not start my morning right, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. [Sigh.] The only upside after a poor night’s sleep is hoping that my sleep-deprived state will lead me to falling asleep more quickly the following night. That’s what usually happens. [Pause.] Usually. 

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