We all sometimes have struggles sleeping. Sometimes we can’t fall asleep. Other times we wake up in the middle of the night and realize our mind is racing. This causes us to have trouble calming down again. This article gives you a little bit of my history with sleep. I talk about how I’ve used the skills I’ve learned over the years to help get a better night’s sleep. I truly believe that focusing on the present can help.
My Sleep Story
I’m 62 years old. I usually get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night. For the past several years, my sleep has been interrupted by a trip to the bathroom once or twice.
On those nights, getting back to sleep can be a real challenge. I toss and turn, try to get my mind to shut down, meditate, and focus on breathing. Sometimes it’s successful, but not always. Once or twice a month I get up at three in the morning and leave the bedroom so my wife can sleep.
I have gone for a run at 2 AM to try to get tired and release the anxiety that I caught walking from the bed to the bathroom and back. A couple of months ago I got up around 3:30 AM and started knocking things off my to-do lists. I got a couple of comments later from people who saw that I was up and posting on Facebook or answering emails at that hour.
The Exercise That Changed Things
With all the work I’ve done on myself, all of the therapy, coaching, counseling, reading, and experimenting I have finally found something that gets me back to sleep every single time. I created an exercise called “This Present Moment Now.” Here’s what I do.
When I get back to bed, if I notice that I’m wide awake again, I pay attention to my thoughts. I imagine putting on a white lab coat and playing curious scientist. Hmm. Interesting. When I think that thought or imagine the picture or scene in my mind, my body reacts to it as if it is happening. But I notice that none of the thoughts, images or scenes are focused on this present moment. They are all from the past, or the future, or are images or scenes that I have fabricated.
Focusing on the Present
I deliberately and silently command my conscious attention to focus on the present moment. I imagine saying to my brain, “this present moment, now.” When I do, my conscious attention shifts to my breath, to the sounds in the house, and the sensations in my body. I notice my body relaxing back to a peaceful state. Moments later, I might realize that my mind has wandered again. I’ve usually made up a story about the sounds in the house or about work or a concern. So I repeat the command. “This Present Moment, Now” and focus on the present moment. My breath. The sounds of my wife sleeping. A head to toe body scan. The temperature. My heartbeat. Anything that I can consciously be aware of in this present moment now.
I’ve never had to repeat the command more than three times before I am back to sleep. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
Now that you have a vision for sleep, do you have a vision for success? If not, download the Vision Creation PDF.