3 in the morning. I reach for the alarm clock which confirms that, yet again, I am wide awake in the middle of the night. It’s been seven straight days of little sleep, for no apparent reason. My mother cheerfully suggested peri-menopause, a possibility I choose to ignore – there are no hot flashes, just jumbled thoughts in my head keeping me awake.
For someone who never experienced insomnia, it’s a very disconcerting sensation. To try and fall back asleep, I don’t resort to turning the tv on, reaching for the book on the nightstand nor do I embark on a house cleaning mission. I just keep my eyes shut thinking that will do the trick. Clearly, it’s not working.
So last night I decided to analyze closely what was happening to my mind and body. I was exhausted – I really wanted to sleep and I could feel Morpheus gently pulling me in. Then, suddenly, work related thoughts started bubbling up out of nowhere. One after the other they neatly stacked themselves in my brain and took up residence, refusing to budge. As a result, the muscles that had slacked in preparation for sleep started to come awake. Clearly, at 3 in the morning, there is not much I can do about solving work problems – consciously, I am aware of it but the buggers just refuse to let go. After years of yoga and meditation, shouldn’t I know what to do besides resorting to valerian?
I tried to focus on one thing and one only – a sheep but that made me wonder why one is supposed to count sheep to fall asleep. So I looked it up. There is no clear history on why sheep counting became the mode of choice to lull oneself to sleep but whatever the reasons, it entered our lexicon. Some researchers at Oxford put the sheep theory to the test and, in fact, it doesn’t work – imagining to be on a beach will have you snoring much faster.
Tonight I am trying a different tactic – avoidance and procrastination. When the thoughts arise I will just tell them I will have to think about it tomorrow. And then I will imagine Tahiti. Because menopause has nothing to do it….