Cool and Empty Thoughts

I need a happy thought, one that will send me back to sleep when I wake up in the early hours of the morning.

I have been on a mission for a number of years to work out the magic ingredients for a good night’s sleep. I thought that protein free dinners might have been the answer which I have subsequently proven wrong. I now believe that once we restrict coffee and alcohol to before 6pm then it is a matter of temperature control and de-stressing.

I once used to sleep much warmer than I needed to and sometimes woke up in a light sweat. Now I’m reading online that it is best to sleep in a slightly cool room. This surprises me and yet my experiences over the past few months are proving its validity.

Towards the end of May when I would have been sleeping snugly under a doona, I only needed a sheet and sometimes one or two blankets. Now in July, I only need a light doona and bedcover which is again in contrast with past practice.

When I settle in for the night I ensure that my bedding is appropriate for the weather. I wait for a few minutes to see whether I become too hot or cold and adjust accordingly.

So having cottoned on to the need for temperature control, I’m left with how to de-stress before retiring for the night.

If I go to bed with an active mind, then I experience vivid or unpleasant dreams. Watching comedies or something funny on TV before I prepare for bed generally leads to an easy entry to sleep. A smile on my face works wonders.

Having a happy thought to lull me back into slumber seems like a good idea but I find that if I attach to any thoughts after I wake then I’ll be awake for some time. In the past, I would get up and make myself a cup of tea, after which I was able to go back to sleep. I now believe that this helped mainly because my body cooled down while I was out of my bed.

I have been reading a book by Tenzin Palmo called “Reflections on a Mountain Lake. Tenzin Palmo is a Western Buddhist nun who lived and meditated in a cave for twelve years. Her book was formed from a series of talks that she gave in the late 1990s and includes a discussion about the value of meditation and how it can help clear the mind.
Clearing the mind is exactly what I need to do when I wake during the night. I have always found meditating difficult.  However if I wake during the night I can generally clear the mind and go back to sleep. The only time that I might have some trouble is if I haven’t dealt with any stress I have been feeling, but I’m finding that most times I can ignore any thoughts that might arise and return to sleep.

So now I do three things to enhance my sleeping pattern. The first is to watch something funny before going to bed to lighten my mind, the second is to ensure that my bedding is just right and the third is to empty my mind if I wake during the night. My new regime is working well for me. I’m sleeping comfortably with a calm and happy mind. This is cool!

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