It’s the holiday season and there’s a lot going on. Sometimes all the excitement keeps me up at night. You, too?
Here are some reasons it happens to me, and what I do about it:
Problem: I drank too much liquid before bed, and have to pee.
Solve: Pee and go back to bed. Lying horizontal, fluids are more easily directed to the kidneys and bladder, hence the nighttime need to pee.
Problem: I drank too much alcohol, and need some water.
Solve: Drink water and go back to bed. Then get up again and pee and go back to bed. Alcohol is dehydrating. I don’t care how much Bob tells me how he read that his Coors is hydrating—it’s also dehydrating.
Problem: I had a very intense (good or bad) day, and now my mind is racing.
Solve: Visualize a scene, maybe something I’m excited about doing. See it in as much detail as I can. Or count the things I’m excited about. Then, notice when my mind starts wandering. Often, on these nights, I actually sleep more than I think I do… but my mind is so active it wants credit for everything, and doesn’t give credit to “sleep.”
Problem: I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things and can’t stop.
Hah! This can be a year-round problem, but it’s especially bold, fanged and clawed, during this season of high social expectations and increased demands on the pocketbook (heating bills, travel expenses, gifts,…).
Why does it happen?
This time of year (and time of day; night) is dark, physically and metaphorically, making it difficult to see things clearly. Shadows are turned into monsters. Our subconscious mind is very active. (I think cats have this phenomenon during the day, when their eyesight is at its nadir. You’ve heard the term “scaredy cat” and I know you’ve spied your cat batting at imaginary quarry. Nighttime rumination is the adult version of monsters under the bed. But just because we know this, doesn’t make them go away. Waaah! Why???!
Here is a theory I just came up with it the other night as I did battle with my own night-terrors—and WON!
Baking Ideas in the Body: The Nighttime is Cook Time!
Come with me, to bed. We’re lying down. Our kidneys and bladder have been activated and purged. Now we’re back lying down, so tired, very tired. Our body knows it’s time to lie still. But our mind is active. Our subconscious mind is energetic with all the worries of the day, but prevented (for the most part) from movement and unable do anything. So, all its energy is trapped in the loop of the nervous system (body, brain) and not able to be worked out, flushed out, by movement and activity. Think about it. During the day, you think of something and then either do something about it, or tell someone else to handle it. Or you write it down on a To Do list, right?
It’s kind of like baking a dish for Thanksgiving. (Though, this is baking a dish for misgiving.) You put all the ingredients in a bowl, stirring it up, mixing it up (that’s your mind). Then you pour it in a pan (that’s your body). Then you put that pan in the oven and turning on the heat (that’s lying in bed, still and quiet, at night). The only thing it can do is bake. Hence, we either stay awake worrying or we dream of activity or have nightmares.
Change the Recipe
Solve: I learned this from memorizing my two-screen shopping list before my phone died on the way into the store. I recited, over and over, “bread, avocado, Brussels sprouts, cream, acorn squash, vinegar, shampoo and tea!” It was my mantra. Positive self-talk, the antidote of my fears. Rewiring the nervous system.
So, the other night, I took my worries and turned them around. I repeated over and over (as I did my shopping list), “I’m doing great. Everything is working beautifully.” The mental chanting quelled the negative thoughts, kept me focused on positivity, and I fell asleep.
I hope this works for you, too. If it does, please let me know, okay?