Many things -- such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly -- are done worst when we try hardest to do them.
~ C.S. Lewis
I am a very regular sleeper. I fall asleep at the same time every night. I wake at the same time every morning, without the need of an alarm clock. Straight eight hours -- nothing m
ore and nothing less. When I need more or am getting less, or when I can't sleep without waking up multiple times -- that's a sign I'm really out of sync.. and it usually means I'm out of sync with myself and others. I know for other people sleep is also one of the most active keys to feeling like they are living in harmony. Sleep disorders are common and they can be devastating.
In his book The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology, John Ortiz offers a wonderful strategy for using music to help soothe sleep issues. (Chapter 6) Not being one to really feel relaxed by new-agey mood music, I found his technique very interesting, particulary for it's use of non-mood music. One caveat: Ortiz states that if your sleep issue continues for more than 2 weeks, it is very important to see a medical professional as this may be a sign of a greater issue.
1. When you go to sleep, turn on a white-noise machine. This could be an air purifier, a ceiling fan, or a commercial white-noise maker. This will act as a sound barrier to extraneous noises.
2. In conjunction with the machine, create a "Sleep Sojourn" music recording for yourself. This music is to be played only when you sleep, so your body will begin to cue into it. The music does not necessarily have to be the typical "relaxation" music.. just something gentle to help wind your thoughts down. Ortiz gave one recommendation of Linda Rondstadt music which I've provided above and below, as well as in amazon links.
3. Focus your thoughts.. tell yourself that this approach will provide you the assistance you need to drift off to sleep. He suggest not using pressured thoughts, trying to force yourself to sleep,but a sleep affirmation as below:
The day is over and the only responsiblity I have in this world, at this time, is to rest and relax. Whether I fall asleep or not, I will still be able to rest and repose. The mere act of lying in bed, doing my deep breathing, and not having to be out and about taking care of anything else until moring will be comforting, restful and relaxing.
4. As you begin to relax, your brain may begin to play tricks on you:
- catastrophizing: "I'll never be able to get to sleep again."
- shoulding: "I should be able to sleep. What is wrong with me?"
- whying: "Why can't I get to sleep?"
- problem solving: "Now that it's nice and quiet, it's a good time to think about the specifics of ____"
- negativizing: "I have no control over the things in my life and this is just an example of this."
Contiue to return to slow diapragmatic breathing. try to visualize a word such as "relax," "peace," or "sleep." When your mind wanders, return to the word. You can also try "sketching" the ea letter of the word in your mind.
5. As you breathe, watch visualize your thoughts slowly give way to the white noise in your environment.
6. Now here is the really unique step that I am drawn to. If after twenty minutes you are still unable to drift to sleep, if you are continuing to have a lot of psychological noise interferece, you may suggest to yourself that you have the option of getting up and tackling a tack that you have been neglecting, but it should be a task the you find particularly unappealing or dreadful. If you choose to pursue the task, remind yourself that at any time, you may stop and return to bed an begin the relaxation process all over again.
If you have any other songs or recordings that you have been helpful for drifting to sleep.. please share them in your comments!
Check out these events at Sacred Arts Studio:
Healing Art Challenge: Loneliness
February Movie Club: World's Fastest Indian
February Book Club: Belong to Me