- Do you ever have a night that you can't get to sleep?
- You get in bed, thinking your tired, and then your brain seems to wake up and go into overtime.
- You start to think about the things you didn't get done today that you should have
- You think about what you have to do tommorrow
- You review conversations you had that didn't go as you wanted, and on and on and on.........
Then you start looking at the clock thinking, "how much sleep will I get if I fall asleep right now?"
You can count sheep, but personally, I get bored after about 3, and then it's back to endless thoughts! Or, you can try my technique that has been working for me for over 30 years.
It is called: 5,4,3,2,1
Here is how it works:
- You can start with your eyes open or closed
- Look around the room with your eyes or memory
- State to yourself (silently in your mind) 5 things you see, i.e. I see the nightstand, I see the dresser, etc.
- Next, focus in on 5 things you hear, e.g. I hear myself breathing, I hear the sound of the air conditioning. You can also go with things like, I hear my thoughts stopping, etc.
- Now you are going to say 5 things you feel, such as I feel myself relaxing, I feel my body getting heavy, etc.
- If you are not asleep by then, you begin going through the cycle again. However, this time, you state 4 things you see, hear, feel (they can be the same), then 3 things you see, hear, feel, down to 1 thing you see, hear feel.
- I very, very, seldom get to the 3's and off to sleep I am.
HOW THIS TECHNIQUE WORKS
To understand how this technique works, we need to look at the brain. We know that our brains have a right and left hemisphere. They each control their own functions. In general, however, the left side of our brains control the functions on the right side of the brain, and visa versa.
The right side of the brain is where the following characteristics reside:
This is the part of the brain that is keeping us up at night. It keeps us in our feelings and has us repeating words in our heads that keep us emotional, such as the following:
- "I should have done blank today"
- "I really messed up that project"
- "Why is my daughter doing the things she is doing?"
- "I have so much to do tommorrow, I don't know how I'm going to get it all done."
With those types of things going through your head, how could you relax and fall asleep?!!!!
- The thoughts themselves raise your blood pressure, anxiety, and panic.
- It is like you are running a marathon in your head!
- It seems like the more you try to stop it, the worse it gets.
This is because you are trying to stop it by using more right brain thoughts:
- "I really need to get some sleep"
- "If I don't sleep I'm going to really mess up that project tommorrow"
- Or you say to yourself "Sleep,sleep,sleep"
- You may even try counting those sheep, which is a way to focus. However, this usually doesn't do the trick because it is too general, and not specifically relatable to you.
So, what is the answer? Easy, activate the left side of your brain! This is the part of the brain that controls functions like...
- Analytical skills
When we are in the left hemisphere of our brain we de-activate the emotional right brain, which subsequently allows us to shut off and sleep! The 5,4,3,2,1 technique helps you switch to the left side of your brain. Focusing on the task at hand, naming very personal, specific things helps the right side of your brain get quiet, then sleep!!
BENEFITS OF THIS TECHNIQUE
Living in the present moment is a goal we need to focus on. If we are living in the past, and or the future, it is very hard to focus on what we are doing right now.
It takes practice to live in the present. While you are engaging in this technique, you are also training your brain to focus on the exact moment in time. The more you practice this technique the easier it will be for you to train yourself to focus on the moment in awake mode. You become extremely aware of the exact second in time as you name things. As you are focusing on the exact instance, you cannot focus on the past, or the future.
And the best part:
NO SHEEP TO COUNT AND A GREAT NIGHTS SLEEP!!!