The ABC’s of Sleep

I have a problem that probably afflicts many people, each of us harboring our own reasons for this affliction. It deprives some of a happy, meaningful life, while others, like myself, just slog through the days hoping for better nights.

You see, I don’t sleep well. I haven’t for many years. Those times when I should be resting my body and mind in preparation of the day ahead I find my myself tossing and turning, and sometimes, not sleeping at all.

Take last night, for instance. I got to bed a little later than normal, just a few minutes before the big hand on the clock obliterated the number 12 and the little hand tried to hide the number 2. Yeah, it was about three to four hours later than usual, but occasionally that happens. At times like those it seems reasonable that I should sleep a little later in the morning than I usually do, but, alas, not to be.

When I opened my eyes after what thought was a long, restful night I spied that tired old clock. It brightly displayed 4:13—that’s a.m. folks. I began to get out of bed and thought to myself, “Self, why don’t you go back to sleep and let the sun beat you up for a change.” That sounded quite reasonable to me. Sometimes I can come up with some pretty good ideas. So, I attempted to do that very thing—let the sun begin its day before I began mine. After tossing and turning for 45 minutes I gave up. I rolled out of bed and began my daily routine. Is two to three hours of sleep enough for a person? I don’t think so, but it is what it is.

Why are most nights shorter than I wish they would be? I wish I knew. I wish someone could tell me why I have difficulty sleeping. Is it like this always? No. I get an occasional day each month of five or six hours of sleep. That’s like a gift falling from heaven when that happens.

Many years ago I devised a formula to help me sleep better. It worked for a little while, I think. It should work more times than it does now, though. It’s a very simple process and easy, or it should be, to accomplish. Why am I telling you about this now?

Well, this morning I read an article about falling asleep. Yes, this occurred long before the sun came up. The article stated that if you laid your head on the pillow and fell asleep immediately you were sleep deprived. It should take you up to 20 minutes to fall asleep. Folks, most times I don’t see three minutes passing by before I’m out. According to this article, I guess I’m sleep deprived. Maybe. But, I’m getting off track here. I want to tell you about my ABC’s of sleep.

The letter ‘A’ stands for aches and pains. A person needs to be free of pain in order to sleep restfully. It works. When I have aches and pains I tend to sleep far less than usual, and I am continually tossing and turning in bed in an attempt to find a comfortable spot. So, your first goal before retiring for the night is to rid your body of those pesky aches and pains. However you choose to accomplish this is for you to decide.

The letter ‘B’ represents breathing. A person must be able to breathe freely, be able to get ample air into their lungs so that the body can extract the much needed oxygen necessary to aid in cell regeneration. If you have difficulty breathing you will not be able to sleep peacefully. You will continually toss and turn in search of the best position to access the air the body craves. So, clear those airways and make the body happy.

The letter ‘C’ stands for a clear mind. You’ve got to clear your mind of those little, or big, problems that we face day in and day out. If at all possible you’ve got to be thinking of nothing at all by the time you drift off into slumberland. Some people use meditation, while others use music or white noise. When I was very young my grandfather taught me a method that might seem strange to others, but it works for me. I don’t have to use it all anymore, but it helped at the time. You see, start silently reciting the multiplication tables to yourself. It will distract you from all other types of thought. Doesn’t take long, either.

So, what was my problem last night? Aches and pains? Nope. Breathing? Most definitely. Clear mind? Yep. Maybe it’s my sub-conscious mind. Maybe that’s where the problem lies. Oh, I sure don’t want to go there. No telling what I’ll find.

The ABC’s work for me. They get me to sleep, but somewhere there has got to be something to keep me asleep, short of a hammer to the head. I’ll have to contemplate that problem just a bit. Maybe during one of those short periods of deep sleep I’ll find the solution to the problem. Meanwhile, I, like many others, will make due with what sleep we get. We will sleep fast and try to dream slow.