Last night I laid in bed once again and looked eye to eye with one of my life’s greatest teachers. The teacher being, my challenge in getting 8 hours of solid uninterrupted, sweet, restorative sleep. To many this may sound like a ridiculous challenge. Often people’s heads hit the pillow and they’re so exhausted sleep arrives immediately.
When I hear someone say that they “hit the pillow and they’re gone,” it sounds like they won the lottery. They aren’t even aware of how magical it is to not struggle with your bed, simply giving yourself 6-8 hours of time in a bed and getting ample sleep.
To sleep, sounds absurdly simple, yet not sleeping well, is not as uncommon of an ailment as I assumed. A Thomson Reuters Research Brief found a tripling in sleep aid prescriptions from 1998 to 2006 for young adults aged 18 to 24, CBS News.
What is up with all of these people having issues with sleeping? There is a myriad of reasons, each tied closely to a person’s internal and external behaviors. Understanding what your specific obstacles are, by evaluating your mental and physical states throughout the day, is critical.
If you chat with someone who hasn’t been impacted by any form of long term sleep deprivation, you will hear these common tricks: drink chamomile tea before bed, take a melatonin, stay away from screens 2 hours before bed and make sure your room in cool enough. These are great suggestions, but often do not scratch the surface in resolving a longer term issue.
Given that I have had limited success with surface level solutions, I explored extensive mind-body solutions, further enabled by learning the principles of life coaching.
In this exploration, one quote stands out: “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is.” -Byron Katie. This quote is directly from Katie’s “the Work,” which reveals how painful we make our lives when we think something that did happen, shouldn’t have happened.
“It should have happened because it did happen, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle.”
Resistance is the cause of most of our suffering. I find this as I lay in bed and think of how horrible it is that I am not sleeping and how terrible I will feel the next day. Then when I turn the thought around and truly and deeply say, “Not sleeping is fine and I will feel fine, if I do or don’t sleep” something magical happens…my body relaxes, my mind lets go and sleep comes when it decides to.
When I let go of arguing with a circumstance, like lack of sleep, I let go of tension and frustration.
Another interesting fact that I read about insomnia is that it impacts people with higher education levels, more frequently. There were not a lot of reasons associated with this statistic. One may be able to correlate more work stress with higher levels of education, but instinctively I don’t believe that is the answer.
Instead I find that people with higher levels of education tend to live in their minds more often. Their active minds create expectations, judgments and ideals. When “what is” falls short of what is expected, turmoil ensues. This does not always result in sleeplessness, rather it takes form in whatever suffering their mind/body decides to manifest.
Earning advanced education and having ideals in life is not a bad thing, but when reality differs from your expectations and you resist it, suffering comes as a result.
Where is your life do you find yourself fighting with the reality of “what is?” Do you see suffering in your life from resistance?
If you do, I highly encourage you to read this short “little black book” from Byron Katie that has helped millions reduce suffering in their lives. If you need a partner to walk you through it, you know where I am:)