I don’t need all of the latest sleep research to convince me that sleep is critically important to my health. One sleep deprived night and my brain goes into battery conservation mode, I feel like a sloth (except when my beloved pushes the wrong button–at which time I’ve been known to morph into a crocodile-shrew combo), and (to top it off) I look 10 years older–not exaggerating.
So why, knowing these things full well, is it so slippery-slope-easy to stay up late and then lie in bed thinking and thinking and then thinking some more?
Anecdotal evidence suggest I am capable of going right to sleep–if I want to. There was that time I started a new job with a 92% productivity expectation that required attentive, one-on-one physical therapy evaluations and treatments–while documenting it all at the same time on software I’d never seen. Talk about multi-tasking (I wasn’t born into the electronic device generation either).
After the first day, I collapsed into bed and told my mind to just turn off because I needed the 100% battery charge and there was no other option, but to go to sleep right now.
It worked. I went right to sleep.
And then I got the hang of things and I lost that sense of emergency. It was replaced by the internal tension of warring voices in my head:
“You really should be in bed now…”
“Yeah, but I’m just going to finish this one thing because… ”
And then the static (while avoiding any decisive choice one way or the other:
“I know, why do I keep procrastinating, why is this so hard…”
If every single good thing I want in this life comes more easily with a good night’s sleep, why on earth is it so easy to slip into this rut?
Wait–let’s change that question:
How can I change my mindset and find an Inside Out strategy for getting the sleep I need?
How do I let the desire for a good night’s sleep eclipse the desire to “just do one more thing” or lie in bed thinking, worrying, and micromanaging everything from the vantage point of my thoughts?
This mindset shift gives me a push right out of that rut:
Don’t wait for the sun to come up to start your day. Start the new day (what you’d typically call “tomorrow”) when the sun goes down today.
Major paradigm shift, I know–which is why there is so much “mindset change” potential here.
Tomorrow morning starts tonight and the first thing on your “To Do” list is:
*Get a good Night’s Sleep
Take it seriously and the urgency of checking off that first thing (we usually start out well, right?) just might push you through the familiar, status quo habit of staying up.
But there’s an even better reason to try this.
Whatever religious (or non) beliefs you hold, the origins story in the Hebrew Bible offers a beautiful picture of a world bigger than ourselves that is potentially refreshing for anyone.
God spends 6 days creating a new world and then, at the very end of it all, he creates the first couple and welcomes them into it. They arrive on the scene just in time to celebrate and relax and enjoy it (God concludes the week with a day of rest).
Why do you suppose God doesn’t start with humans and have them do the work? A great question to ponder.
In this narrative, the end of each day concludes with the words, “And the evening and the morning…” (were the first/second/third… day).
In other words, the day started in the evening. Again, creation sleeps and joins in later.
Imagine how this shift in emphasis could shift our focus.
We could start the day by lying down and resting, trusting that the world will stay in orbit and keep turning without any conscious effort on our part.
When the turning brings us into the light again, we wake up and join in–refreshed and ready to participate.
So when the last light of day slips from sight and the colors of evening fade into the night sky, say good-bye to this day and welcome the new day that is beginning right now.
Rest into that new day. Know that you have a big block of time in which nothing is required of you but to rest in preparation for the text task.
Be patient with yourself–you are not behind. You have a fresh start.
Imagine your day–your world–differently and experiment with what it feels like to let go of the anxious thoughts.
If you believe there is a God, try saying, “Hello. Here’s the stuff I’m carrying–please take care of it while I sleep. Talk again in the morning. Thanks.”