I didn’t sleep enough last night. But I have a ninja trick to quickly correct this: I practice the art of resting fully. Want to know what it is?
When I say that I didn’t sleep enough, I mean just that — I didn’t “have insomnia”. I just went to bed too late, at around midnight. Then I was cold, and my body couldn’t warm up while lying under the sheets. Feeling cold, I couldn’t fall asleep. After 45 minutes of feeling cold I got up and took a warm shower. Then I went back to bed and fell asleep promptly — until my alarm rose me up at 6:45.
Sleeping six hours is not enough for me to feel fully rested (I rather need 7.5/8 hours). So I felt slightly grumpy, a little fatigued, and definitely uninspired by what I had put on my to-do list.
Feeling the blah
That gave me a little taste of the ordeal most people who come to SleepTracks experience — and a reminder of what I used to experience in a much more pronounced way a decade ago, when I was labeling myself as an insomniac.
Anyway, after about an hour of responding to SleepTracks’s clients and a few other tasks, I started to feel the urge to procrastinate.
That’s what happens when we are under-rested and sleep-deprived, right? We easily crumble under the slightest pressure. We feel easily overwhelmed. We can’t concentrate. So we start to procrastinate. Or we get back to an old habit: using worry as a project instead of working on whatever is in front of us. Blah.
What is the ninja trick then?
In three words: taking a nap.
I actually took three naps that day. Yes, three. Now please hear me: most days I don’t nap at all. Sometimes I’ll nap once in the afternoon. But yesterday I listened to my needs and rested three times.
Did I waste my whole day doing that? Hardly.
First nap lasted 20 minutes.
Second nap lasted about 15 minutes — because I fell asleep and then woke up thinking that the alarm had already rang.
The last one, spent on the couch, lasted for about 30 minutes.
Yes, I was overindulging. And doing so without the slightest bit of self-judgment. Without telling myself that I “should be” doing this or that instead. In fact, when I lied on the couch I told myself “I’m going to stay there until I actually want to get up and do something”.
It felt great, because I actually needed it. I know because I felt so much clearer and energetic and motivated after each one of those naps. Instead of sitting stupid and confused in front of my computer, I was able each time to be productive and inspired again.
Rest fully when you need to
Resting fully when you need to is the best act of self-love you can provide yourself. And nobody else but you can give yourself this precious gift.
Resting is more important to your overall health than nutrition. More important than physical activity. More important than anything else.
Let me repeat that and be obnoxious about it: When you need it, physical rest is more important to your overall health than nutrition. More important than physical activity. More important than anything else.
Most people have forgotten that they even have the possibility of listening to that need and to fill it. They take coffee, chocolate, load up on carbs instead, or stimulate themselves with the news, with frantic activity… or with worry.
All of these are crappy substitutes to the real deal: rest.
Your need for rest won’t necessarily come from lack of sleep. It can manifest itself after hard physical exertion, demanding concentration at work, or an exhausting relationship conflict — anything that taxes your energy system more than usual.
In any case, honoring this need will make a big difference in your day. And even help you turn your back to insomnia (more on that later).
Simple napping instructions
1 Don’t make it complicated. And don’t focus on falling asleep. Just have the intention to “rest” for 20 minutes or so.
People will say “I can’t sleep during the day” as a justification for why they won’t lie down even though they are clearly exhausted — but the goal is NOT to fall alseep, but simply to answer your body/mind’s need to rest for a moment.
If that is your intention, then your nap will always be a success.
Call it “a little quiet time” if you don’t want to call it a nap because you’d feel lazy 🙂
2 Just lie down on your bed (keep your clothes on, this is a quickie, remember) or on your couch. Under your desk, or over. Anywhere, really. Put a sleep mask on.
3 Set some timer and let go for 20-30 minutes. Not more. Even if it takes you 15 minutes to doze off.
4 Use Power Nap, the audio session created specifically for that in the SleepTracks Sleep Optimization Program. The background sounds will make the world around you fade out, and the brainwave entrainment will help you to let go and guide you to sleep.
I’ve used Power Nap for a few years religiously — but now I’m so used to napping when I need to that I just put on my sleep mask and off I go.
People around me are always surprised to see me get back from a nap so quickly with a spring in my legs. “Already?” they say. “Did you sleep?”
“Yes, of course I did. »
And you can too. It’s just a matter of practice.
When to do it (and when not)
Simple, again: do it when you feel the need to rest (and when you can get away with it).
But will napping ruin your next night’s sleep? Some sleep experts warn you not to take naps if you struggle with sleep. They say it will make your insomnia worse.
I say on the contrary.
Use those short naps as training to get good at letting go quickly and fall asleep whenever you lie down.
Even if you don’t sleep you’ll get the benefit of resting and rejuvenating.
Just don’t do it after dinner at night in order to avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep.
DON’T nap for an hour in front of the TV after dinner!
A good remedy against the fear of not sleeping
Napping regularly will also lessen the fear of not sleeping you may be harboring right now.
Knowing you can always take a nap (or, like me, a few ones) if the need arises and wake up refreshed will lower the pressure you put yourself under when nighttime comes.
As far as I’m concerned, next time I don’t sleep enough I’ll just resort to my favorite resting trick, and I’ll go for a short nap. Even if you think I’m a lazy bum.
(btw, I’m a lazy bum only when I decide to. Next week I’ll be locked at home on a writing retreat, attempting to write the full draft of a book in one six-day burst. It will be intense! I might nap a few times along the way.)
Go back in the members area and download Power Nap if you haven’t already. Or dust off that CD and start using it the next time you feel like resting. If you don’t have the program, get it here.
Picture: Julia Manzerova