back to sleepNeed More or Better Sleep?

In the September newsletter, I talked about breathing yourself down from a stressful day and preparing yourself for a great, sound sleep. Now, I want to add pointers for when you wake up and have trouble going back to sleep.

You might wake up from a nightmare or awaken with a racing pulse; perhaps a simple sound or movement disturbs you and your thoughts get going, preventing you from falling back asleep.  Maybe you ate too much or  too late. There are many things that can disrupt sound, restful sleep. If this happens repeatedly, you may have established a pattern that is challenging to reset.

Whatever the cause when you awaken, the important thing is not to let your thoughts take off into worrying about it. That pulls energy up into your head and out of your body – where you need it most to sleep.  There are usually a few moments when you first awake where your thoughts haven’t completely kicked in.  If you can catch yourself in those moments and take a few deep breaths, you put yourself back into your body – which wants to go back to sleep.  Your mind wants to wake up and do its thinking, that’s it’s nature.

Gentle practice works wonders

With this awareness and a little practice, you can gently take the reins from your mind the way you would with a team of horses that got spooked, and gently but firmly guide them back to calmness.  It’s all in the breath. Calm, steady breathing works wonders.  And square breathing* is the tool that distracts your mind with counting while opening space for your body to reset.

If you have a pattern of night waking, your body and nervous system have likely been overloaded for a while and it may take some practice to retrain yourself to settle down and trust that it’s safe.  Again, imagine those scared horses wanting to bolt.  When they know a firm handler “has them” they feel safe enough to calm down.  Even if you don’t manage to get yourself back to sleep the first night, breath anyway and allow the calming effect of that. Tell yourself that this is a process and you will get it eventually. Talk to yourself the way you would to a scared child (maybe you are talking to a scared child inside yourself) and reassure her/him that you can learn this and that you’ll keep him/her safe.

It may help to imagine your young self being calmed by your older, stronger self or a wise elder. If that image comforts you, use it. No mater what, breathe deeply.  In time, you will find that this kind of empowered imagining and breathing does what you may have relied on medication for – but better!  It’s free and you have access to it any time you remember to do it.  No matter what, deepen your breath and come back into your body.


*I give detailed instructions for Square Breathing in chapter one of my book, Issues in Your Tissues.

#sleepwell  #backtosleep    #nightwaking    #goodsleephabits    #goodnightssleep