There are hundreds of reasons that might prompt us to waken from sleep—the inevitable call of nature, nightmares, snores coming from the other side of the bed, a kid who has any number of problems, etc… Oh wait, those are just mine. Then again, maybe I’m not alone ???
For those of us who wake after a nightmare, it can take a long time to quiet our racing hearts, calm our electrically charged cells, and banish those terrifying images from our minds.
Nightmares have taken their toll on me and have led to chronic sleep deprivation, forcing me to find ways of coping. Hopefully, no one else is having such vivid nightmares but what I’ve learned might help others who are awake at night thinking about all the demands of the following day that they can do absolutely nothing about in that moment.
Although meditation is usually done awake and in a sitting position, I have been using this basic concept to help me get back to sleep. When I’m lying in bed with every nerve on fire, I begin to think about my breathing. I focus only on each breath. Inevitably, this lasts about ten seconds and then my mind wanders back to my nightmare. As soon as I realize what I’m doing, I remind myself to focus on my breathing again. I do this over and over until I begin to feel more relaxed. This helps bring my heart rate back to normal and takes away that “crawling skin” sensation.
Recently I read about a technique using alternate nostril breathing. There are claims that the left nostril connects to one side of the brain and the right to the other, a fact I certainly can’t substantiate, but what I can attest to is that it is easier to stay focused when using this technique, to concentrate on my breathing and stop my wandering mind.
Lying on my side, I close one nostril with my thumb and breathe in through the other, switch, and block the other nostril, exhale and repeat. This is much more effective for staying in the present moment because it takes more concentration.
Mastering meditation has been a goal of mine for some time. The benefits of giving our minds a rest is very powerful especially in someone whose brain is drowning in incessant internal chatter.
In his book “Proof of Heaven” neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander, introduces the reader to Hemi-Sync. Simply put, it is a system used to enhance deep conscious exploration based on audio technology. It uses specific patterns of stereo sound waves to induce synchronized brain activities. The science behind it is exciting but too complicated to explain here. Suffice to say, it is just music with beats below the normal threshold of human hearing. It is not subliminal messages, but it does work—at least for me.
Due to my desire to master meditation, I listen to one for that purpose, but there are others to help with sleeplessness.
To my surprise there has been a completely unexpected side effect from listening to just ten minutes of Hemi-Sync before bedtime. The nightmares that have been my constant companion since Stefanie died have all but disappeared. There were no claims that this technique would be beneficial in this way. Hopefully they do some research in this area as well.
Sleep is so vital to our mental and physical health. Do yourself a favour and don’t settle for sleepless nights. Try to find a natural way to have a restful sleep so that your body can help to heal and rejuvenate itself and you can be your very best when you’re awake.
If any of these techniques work for you, I’ll be thrilled. If you have another successful method, please share.