Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Archive for December 15th, 2015

Sleep Helpers

Posted by terrepruitt on December 15, 2015

I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a long time.  But I am no expert on the matter, so I hesitate, then today I was talking to one of my students about it and I thought, “I wanna share.”  It is about sleep.  I love sleep, I am sure I have said that in a post or two.  Sleep is very important to me.  I do not function well at all without enough sleep.  And really it is also about GOOD sleep.  Uninterrupted sleep.  I was just starting to get really good sleep and then we got cats.  Some of you might know how animals interrupt your sleep.  Just this morning, I was awoken, by a small vibrating earthquake, but no, it was one of the cats scratching.  I fell back to sleep only to be awoke by another tremor . . . not the earth, a cat violently shaking her head.  UGH!  Anyway . . . many people have trouble falling asleep.  As the conversation went today with my student, she was saying she can’t stop thinking.  She has a busy mind.  Some call it the monkey mind.  What I find annoying is that sometimes even if you aren’t prone to a super busy mind, trying to go to sleep makes it happen.  I have a few things I do and a few ideas that might help with that busy bed brain.

To me, counting sheep or anything is counter productive.  This is how is goes for me:  “One, two, three, four, five . . . . twenty-one, oh, I forgot about dinner tomorrow . . . twenty-what?  Where was I?  Let’s see, I think I was at least at fifteen, but wait, I think that I have been in bed way longer than it would take to get to fifteen . . . ”  See how that would not work for me?  Once I lose track of the number I am on, then I start thinking again.  What does help me, is to just say one word over and over.  That way I won’t lose track.  I like to say, “Sleep.”  I actually just concentrate and repeat it over and over.  As other thoughts come up, I say, “Hmmm.  Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.”  I recognize the thought that tried to interrupt, but then I push it out with my word.

Also, sometimes there is a darkness that I can concentrate on.  It is as if I am seeing things when I close my eyes, but as I get sleepy it starts to fade and turn to darkness.  When a thought comes in, the pictures or light colors come back, but sometimes I can concentrate on that darkness and — boom, I’m a sleep.

Sometimes it is a sound.  It is like that ringing in the ears.  I can concentrate on the sound and it pulls me into sleep.

One thing to do during the day that might help when it comes time to sleep, is, not drink caffeine.  I know it is a cycle . . . don’t get enough sleep, drink coffee (caffeine), then be up because there is a stimulant in your system.  If you are one of those people that thinks they are not affected by caffeine keeping you awake, I would still suggest drinking less.  Just SEE what that does to your quality of sleep.

Also, what I was suggesting to my student who said she had a busy mind, was dance.  If you like to dance, turn on some of your favorite music and dance to it.  Turn on a song you cannot help but move to.  Then concentrate on your movements and your body.  Basically it is Nia Free Dancing.  What this does is it helps you focus.  It allows your brain to concentrate so that you can quiet some of the chatter in your head.  If you have a monkey mind, it takes PRACTICE to quiet it.  So doing this as often as you can will help.  Practicing focusing and quieting the brain while you are awake will allow you to quiet it when you want to go to sleep.

When you go to bed make sure you are comfortable.  Recently I realized that my feet were often cold.  I like the room to be cool so I can breath, but my feet were so cold it was keeping me awake.  So sometimes I put socks on when I get in bed.  Usually JUST as I am about to fall asleep, I pull them off.  Well, this is in the winter, in the summer you know I sleep with ice!

Also, use as many pillows and props as you need to be comfortable.  I have posted about how I sleep with foam rollers.  So use pillows or things to put your body in the most comfortable sleeping position possible.  Then even if your mind is still going let your body relax and become heavy.  Perhaps imagine all the tension, stress, or busy energy draining out of your body.  The times that I have been thinking too much to fall asleep, I have realized that I am tense.  Then once I let my body relax, my mind can sometimes follow.

Legs up the wall is a great pose to do before bed.  If you do that for as long as you can (but at least 10 – 15 minutes) then go DIRECTLY to bed, you might just sleep GREAT!

I’ve also gotten out of bed to write down the things I am thinking I need to do.  That helped a little bit.  I think I posted about that.

There are so many things to do that might help.  What do you do to help yourself get to sleep when you have a lot on you mind?

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