It is 2am. In the silence of the night you could hear a pin drop, the darkness is broken only by the single street light that shines outside your bedroom window. That light is so bright, so all consuming. Yet it isn’t the light that keeps you from sleep, the light is merely something tangible you can focus on. What is it? Why is a good night sleep so illusive? Why is it that you are so tired, yet at the same time you just cannot get to sleep or get back to sleep if woken? And, why is it that even in the random times you do get a “good night sleep” you still wake up exhausted?
You continue laying there pondering, your mind racing unable to catch the thoughts…
You are not alone
Be “rest-assured” you are not alone in insomniac tendencies. In 2016 it was found that between 33-45% of Australian adults suffer from a lack of sleep that impeded their daily functioning – the report by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that “sleep problems and daytime consequences are endemic among Australian adults. A focus on healthy sleep at a policy level as well as increased clinician and public awareness may be warranted” (2016).
Yet, although you may not be alone in this, the reality is the issues that arise for you personally due to the lack of sleep you are getting are not going away. Recently ABC’s The Catalyst meet with various scientists and discovered “it’s during sleep that the brain chooses which memories to strengthen and which to lose; that extreme sleep deprivation negatively affects a whole range of body functions” – Watch the episode HERE
Not only is a lack of sleep associate with poor memory capacity, so too: poor learning retention and poor decision making skills are all symptoms of sleep debt. What’s more is that a chronic lack of sleep has been shown to be associated with heart disease obesity, depression and a range of other serious health conditions!
A Good Night’s Sleep
So what does it take to have a good night sleep? Is sleep an enigma that only a select few are privy to?
Our answer is no, sleep is not only for a select few, effective, good quality sleep is for everyone! You can have a good night sleep – it does however take patience, and a cultivation over time – aim to change habits, health, and holistic wellbeing.
We have spoken in the past about the seven best methods for cultivating a good night’s sleep, however today we only want to focus on one: Compassion.
I wonder sometimes when you lay there unable to sleep – are you aware of what is going on in your mind? In your body? And I wonder how often when there is an inability to fall asleep, are you self criticising? Belittling yourself, getting angry, judging, or maybe just worrying about how tired you will be the next day?
It is hard, so hard. Laying tired yet unable to get to sleep or stay asleep is not something that is to be dismissed, at the same time, I wonder what it would be like to remove the self judgement? Rather than to criticise yourself and your inability to sleep, recognise and notice the feelings and sensations in your body and mind, allow what is simply to be. Bring compassion into your heart, and offer gentle loving kindness to whatever thoughts may flow through your mind.
Compassion is the most healing and restorative embodied emotions we can cultivate. There is a biological basis to compassion that has the ability to take your heart rate down, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and open channels of soothing and regulatory hormones such as oxytocin – these things perfect for creating an internal atmosphere for good sleep. (Read more about the compassion instinct research by Dacher Keltner HERE)
With this in mind, and if you constantly struggle to get a good night sleep, why not come along to one of our retreats to explore many restorative pathways to wellbeing – See HERE for more details