Some people say they don’t have trouble sleeping and just claim to have an overactive mind that keeps them awake a few days a week, but the two are effectively one of the same. An overactive mind will keep you from dropping off to sleep quickly, and it will cause periods of wakefulness through the night. Truth is, you weren’t born with an overactive mind, you may think a lot, perhaps more than most, but your mind should naturally begin to relax as sleep time approaches. The problem is that many of us have forgotten how to fully switch off.
Bad Sleep: A Modern Problem
In the modern day there are a number of things that cause our minds to become overactive; money issues and relationship problems are the two main culprits, another is a heavy workload that we just can’t detach from at night. Our caveman ancestors didn’t have trouble sleeping because of money or relationships issues, they only had to worry about food supply and shelter; both of which were usually readily available in some shape or form; thus problems sleeping simply didn’t exist. Our lives are complicated and we generally think more than ever, in fact, the average person has over 50,000 thoughts per day! No wonder we have trouble switching off.
Meditation and even yoga still sounds slightly ‘new age’, and for men it sounds a little silly. But put your preconceptions aside for a second. Seven years ago I would have laughed at the thought of myself doing stretches of breathing exercises, or even listening to a CD of waves washing ashore to relax, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Tonight, half an hour before you start preparing for bed, sit comfortably on a rug or cushion or on your sofa. Close your eyes, sit up straight and deep breathe slowly for a few minutes. Imagine all your thoughts leaving your mind as you breathe out. Simply focus on the rise and fall of your breath, and let go of all other thoughts as they leave with your exhalation. Increase the time you practice each week. This exercise is great before bed and at any time during the day when you feel overloaded with excess thoughts, fear, anxiety or general stress.
You can also try this exercise when your mind just won’t stop racing at badtime. Close your eyes as you lay on the pillow, and imagine your favourite relaxing place to be. For example; this might be a tropical island. Picture every aspect of the calming scenery; the coconut trees, the blue sky, the sea breeze, the white sand…Seamlessly become part of the picture, forget your trouble sleeping and drift away into the background. Before you know it you’ll be in dreamland