Last night our lovely two year old Noah woke at 3.15am and shouted ‘Mummy, I want you’. I woke immediately and was there for him as any mother would be. He came and clambered into our bed. He wouldn’t usually do this but recently he has been struggling with his teeth coming through and I decided to be soft and let him in for a cuddle.
Thankfully I’m not grumpy when I get woken, after nearly three years of having a small child I have had plenty of practise! My husband Martyn is not quite so chirpy when he is disturbed. He wasn’t game for joining in the chat about Grandpa having taken Noah to Play Group rather than Nursery by mistake the morning before! Nor the middle of the night debate about whether the shop was open.
The reason behind our different levels of tolerance is, i’m sure, mindfulness. I meditate daily and have the brain training tools to get back to sleep without too much trouble. Martyn, on the other hand, doesn’t meditate and struggles to get to sleep and instead enters into a world of worry rather than rest.
So when Noah has cheerfully drifted off to sleep again, after what seems like an eternity of lively attempts at chit chat and a lot of wriggling, I drop off no problem and Martyn is left to think about everything that is bothering him, plenty of time to blow it all out of proportion! All problems seem bigger in the middle of the night, probably because we have nothing to distract us from them. We are left by ourselves and our minds can go wild.
So what’s my secret?! Well I do physical exercise every day and i’m sure that has a lot to do with it. But most importantly I train my brain every day. I learn to focus my attention, to relax my mind, and at times I just allow my mind to be. If a worry comes into my head I’m usually able to use my brain training techniques to let go of the thought rather than to dwell on it. So when I’m in bed and ready to switch off it isn’t an alien concept, it is something I am used to doing.
Next time you are having trouble sleeping try this simple exercise…
Lie on your back with your hands on you thighs. Start to count your breaths, just up to 10. When you get to 10 start at one again. Every time your mind wanders bring it back to your counting.
This will help you to get your mind in just the right state to sleep. You don’t want to try anything too taxing because then your mind will become more active and you won’t be able to get to sleep. It needs to be an easy exercise so that your mind can slowly switch off. Another good one is to try counting backwards from 100.
If you are able to bring this exercise into your daily routine then when you try to use it at night your mind will know what to expect and it will work more quickly. Any sort of meditation exercise that seeks to calm the mind and slow thoughts down is brilliant training for getting better sleep. Come on a Revitalise Day to learn more simple to use techniques to train your brain.