It's the worst.
Staring at the clock, checking the time again and again, as it creeps—or leaps—forward and your mind's gears won't shut down, the voices won't turn off, and the worries keep grinding away.
The more you want to sleep, the less you seem in reach of it. And then the frustration, impatience, and aggravation drive you mad. Now you're angry AND sleepless.
For teachers, as well as any service profession like nursing or compassionate care, getting your rest, free and easy, each night is a must. There's just no way that we can do our work on the level that we strive for, offering our best selves in our highest patience, generosity, and compassion, if we are sleep-deprived.
It can drive people crazy, after all, to lose too much sleep. It is even an extreme means of torture. And in the United States, we are especially, chronically sleep-deprived.
So what are we to do? Late at night, staring at the wall, the ceiling, the back of our partner's snoring head?
Here are the best 5 tips that I use when I cant sleep. Please share your own in the comments section here and on our Facebook page.
- Be Kind to Yourself: First step, don't beat yourself up for not sleeping! When you wake up be as kind to yourself as you would to a student who has the flu or another loved one feeling unwell. Ask your body in a soft and soothing way what you need in order to rest. Usually, it can tell you. The stress we add by being angry with our selves for being awake makes it so much worse!
- Crystal Singing Bowls: I put them on my phone or computer and then quietly focus on the sound. As I let the subtle and gentle harmonics fill my brain, it takes up all the space that was just given over to my monkey mind, until I drift off into easy slumber. I especially love this one (image above) from www.meditativemind.org's youtube channel.
- Breathing Options: When we increase our exhale, we increase the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (Read: Sleep!). The 4-7-8 Breath exercise naturally calms the body. Try it as a meditation in your pj's before you get into bed, or when you've cozied up under the covers and are ready for sweet relaxation.
- Bedtime or End of Work Rituals: Tried and true—these really help me and a bunch of other teachers I work with. When you want to turn off, create a specific saying to register to your body that work time is over. "Work is over. I have time to rest and heal my body and mind." Light a candle for an hour, while you do your nightly skincare routine, drink a cup of herbal tea, or read before you go to sleep. Even listening to the same kind of music when you get done with work (celebrate!) or every night before you go to sleep (wind down...) can signal to your body a habitual change.
- UnPlug: Keep those screens out of your bed! I know it's really hard, but if you can end your technology, internet, or device time at least an hour before you want to fall asleep, it will help your body quiet enough in preparation before bedtime that sleep will come to you a lot easier. Even if you have your Night Shift setting on, and are hip to the "blue light" biological science—no-screen is better than yellow-screen.
- Lastly, a Bonus Pro-tip: Ideally transition for bedtime before 10 pm. Your body will re-energize if you stay working after this time, and rally for another cycle of productivity.
With ZZZ's and Sheep,