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 I look 10 years older–not exaggerating.
So why, knowing these things full well, is it so slippery-slope-easy to 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.
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. Yet, every single good thing I want in this life comes more easily with a good night’s sleep.
So how do we change our mindset about this?
How do we let the desire for a good night’s sleep eclipse the desire to think and worry and micromanage everything from the vantage point of our thoughts?
Let’s Try This
How about starting the day before we go to bed? This could help us make sleep the first item on our “To Do” list. Why? Maybe the urgency of checking that off would motivate us to let go of whatever keeps us up and thinking?
But what I’m really after here is a mindset shift.
Whatever religious (or non) persuasion you may come from, the origins story in the Hebrew Bible offers a beautiful picture of a world bigger than ourselves.
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 rest (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? That’s 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 where 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 world, your day 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.”