I used to be an insomniac. At the age of five I was convinced I was an owl, or nocturnal at least. A teacher had obviously taught me this rather fancy sounding word and, being the most obvious creature to describe being nocturnal, offered me the explanation of an owl. I totally related to the notion of an animal that was up all night and asleep all day. Despite no obvious signs of feathers, in my childish brain I came to the conclusion that as I too was up all night, I must therefore be an owl.
I used to have nightmares, rather like the Scream, where I was wandering the streets in the dark with no one to talk to and all the other people being fast asleep in their beds. How was I to navigate this dark and creepy world all on my own? What kind of future did I have if I was destined to wander from street to street with no aim or purpose? All the way through into my adulthood this feeling, and pattern of behaviour, continued until one day I decided to take charge.
I decide that if there were 24 hours in the day, 8 of them should technically be spent sleeping, and so I had 16 left to play around with. With 8 spent at work, I should have 8 left for ‘me time’ play time or whatever else time, but where were they disappearing to everyday? I didn’t feel like I had 8 hours to myself every day.
I could spend these sixteen hours anywhere I liked and I noticed that the remaining few before bed time, say 7pm to 10pm were largely in front of the television, staving off ‘a second wind’ that would keep me up late in the night with household activities or worse still, trying not to eat the contents of the biscuit barrel.
If I were to spend those sixteen hours across a different time of the day, then what would happen?
I was no longer an insomniac!
So I determined to go to bed much earlier, say 9pm (instead of 11pm to 1pam) and get up earlier so as soon as the urge for cheese and biscuits arose, I could nip off to bed and hopefully sleep through the distraction. It was tough at first. Sleep didn’t want to come however setting the alarm earlier too, over a few days or weeks, meant that by the evening I was suitably tired. And it worked!
Not only did it work, but it worked a treat! I must say that mindfulness has played a huge part in feeling rested at night. If I live an ethical life, do my best, try to be kind, live by the five precepts, then I should be able to sleep soundly at night. If my behaviour is good then I should have nothing to worry about or anything troubling me to keep me awake. This simple approach has definitely allowed me to sleep more easily.
I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say I’m a morning person, but I do tend to get up early compared to most people and I think I’m right in saying I go to bed earlier than most people. I’ve got the added bonus of not having a partner. If your other half wants to stay up later or it’s the only time you get to spend together, hopping up the stairs at 8pm might no earn you many brownie points. Not sure if I have much advice for you there as it’s not my area of expertise.
What is’s like now…
Now I go to bed every night and sleep like a top, night after night without waking up once and usually start to rouse a little before the alarm goes off. Not only is it blissful, but it’s revolutionised my life. I also get a lot more done as the hours spent in front of the television are now spent in the mornings, where I’m up and about and tackling projects around the house.
If you’d like to find out more about your sleep patterns, techniques for improving your mindset for a good nights sleep and no longer being an owl, then why not join Caroline in our sleep hygiene workshop coming up on 12th May.
I’d love to hear your stories too, please comment below if you’ve got any funny stories or meaningful experiences to share.