I couldn’t sleep.
I’d lost all my money in a series of bad decisions. My job sucked. I was alone in a new city after a messy break-up.
I would wake up at odd hours in the night worrying and couldn’t go to sleep again. Sometimes I’d try exercising vigorously before bed, sometimes I’d take a sleeping pill, sometimes something else. Mostly though I’d just battle it out.
Cut to five years later. My start-up crashed. I lost a bunch of money all over again. My magnum-opus novel failed. This time, I had two kids so it should’ve felt more stressful.
Except this time I didn’t lose a single night of sleep.
This is life. Some ups, more downs. Success is ephemeral, failure is never far. If you try new things, you’ll likely crumble. You’ll pick up the pieces, then you’ll crumble again. It’s messy, glorious, always work-in-progress.
Just don’t lose sleep.
Sleep is wonderful. It relaxes, rejuvenates, wipes off the failures of the day before, and helps start the new day on a blank slate.
I was jittery, broken and angry five years ago. In my latest crisis, I was calm, reasonably unaffected, and always optimistic things would turn a corner.
Sleep was the difference.
How did my sleep improve in this time without really trying? Unknowingly, I started practicing these three steps below.
How to have the best sleep in the world from tomorrow
1. Start Meditating
You can stop reading this post, even this blog, after reading this bullet. This is the one decision that can change the quality of your sleep forever. Meditation works in complex ways to help sleep but at its heart, it immediately pauses the restless waves of thought that are wrecking your sleep. Once you get into the rhythm, just ten minutes of meditation before hitting the bed will allow a dreamless, un-interrupted sleep for the rest of the night.
I’ve written extensively about meditation in my blog so here I’ll just point you to my 10-10-10 rule to start meditating for 10 minutes tomorrow:
- Sign up for this 10 day silent (and free) Vipassana meditation retreat today at www.dhamma.org. Read more here for what to expect from the experience.
- Read this detailed blog about my journey of going from restless novice to (still restless but reasonably competent) meditator in 10 minutes.
- Read these classic books to understand the theory of meditation better for $10.
Just take these three above steps today and you’ll become the master of the universe tomorrow. Or at-least a master of your sleep.
2. Quit Coffee
I’ve read research, most likely sponsored by the Big Food lobbies who make the biggest coffee brands in the world, extolling the benefits of coffee. One cup is good for your heart, two cups will make you immortal etc. As a recovering insomniac, I think it’s a sham. I switched coffee with herbal tea a few years ago and the calm sleep I had after having a meditation routine became even more refreshing.
Bonus: Quit Sugar in your everyday routine as well and you’ll probably never wake up again. Involuntarily I mean Read more why you should quit sugar here.
Don’t let coffee research from a professor trying to get tenure so he can work on his coming-of-age novel rob you of your sleep. The artificial highs and sudden crashes from coffee and sugar are the complete antithesis of the calm, thoughtless state you’re trying to induce to become an Olympic sleeper.
3. Create Everyday.
My novels have wrecked my posture, my bank balance and almost all functioning relationships but they’ve saved my life. Each time I write a book, I pour a lifetime of hopes and agitations into them. For what is fiction but a writer’s effort to complete an incomplete world in some way with his creation. Your medium of creation may be different but pour your life into creating something every day. You’ll channel a bit of the restlessness that’s robbing you of your sleep. And perhaps, even help other tormented souls make sense of their worlds one day!
Here’s wishing you a restful 2017! And do drop a note in the comments below to let me know if these tips help. As always, I read, reply and learn from each one.