Did you ever say this prayer as a child? I remember my mother teaching me it but I hated saying it! Especially the bit about ‘if I should die before I wake…’ It filled me with fear and actual dread of going to sleep.
For every living organism, there is a strong connection between safety and sleep – we need to feel safe and secure in ourselves and then we can fall asleep and it’s really as simple as that. But what is it that we need to do in order to feel safe? Some people think that it’s about making sure there’s money in the bank, food in the cupboard, emails replied to, the perfect relationship… These might help but at the heart of a good night’s sleep, lies the ability to let go of whatever is going on in your life, no matter how messy. We let go of what’s ‘out there’ and we draw ourselves inwards. And how do you do this? My professional and personal experience with insomnia shows that the way you spend those vital minutes before getting into bed really informs your ability to go within. So if you ever find yourself having problems sleeping you may find it helpful to give some thought to whatever it is that you do before you get into bed at night and whether it does actually help you to feel safe to sleep.
I’ve always been a bookworm and as a child would spend hours with my head in books like ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ or ‘The Enchanted Wood’. The stories transported me to another world leaving me bereft when I had to close my book, switch the light off and go to sleep. Recently, someone who used to be my patient wrote to me asking ‘I’m trying to find a book to read before I go to bed that isn’t too stimulating or heart rending. I was wondering if you could recommend some titles?’ This patient used to have terrible insomnia problems and would spend hours avoiding going to sleep often watching thrillers and horror films or spending hours on social media. Thankfully, she has stopped doing this and has some healthier pre-bedtime routines but she’s still very sensitive to what goes into her head before she sleeps.
And many of us are like this – especially if you’re a sensitive sleeper and find yourself struggling to let go of the day. While I’m not going to recommend any specific bedtime reading (so individual), I would say that if you want to sleep beautifully, then give some conscious thought to what you do before you go to bed. Think about what you watch on TV (personally I rarely watch the news before I go to bed), the books you read, the conversations you have, the things you do and even the thoughts you have. And try to stay off technology before bedtime (please!) – I’m convinced that this is the root cause of many of the insomnia problems I’m seeing in my clinic at the moment.
We sleep best when we go to bed feeling loving, grateful, compassionate, and optimistic. There’s much preoccupation these days as to whether we’re getting enough sleep. I don’t think this is the key issue at all – the important thing is whether we’re getting enough pure or sattvic sleep. The sleep that restores us on every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
So tonight as you prepare to go to bed, consciously draw your energies in. Retreat from out there, come back to yourself…and here’s a perfect and old fashioned way of doing this…get comfy in bed and then allow your mind to drift backwards through your day and simply give thanks for every good thing that’s happened. Just count your blessings…before you know it, you’ll be asleep.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and have missed any of my previous musings, you can find them on www.drnerinamuses.com.
Yours in amazing health and energy.