dam chattering mind keeping me awake!

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optimist
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:39 pm
Location: South London

dam chattering mind keeping me awake!

Post by optimist »

hi silmhost,
what can I do to stop my bloomin mind racing and keeping me awake?
yawn...opti!
If you're going through hell - keep going! Winston Churchill

silmcoach
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Re: dam chattering mind keeping me awake!

Post by silmcoach »

Hi opti,

Yes, an overactive mind is often the reason for lack of sleep. Without knowing anything of your personal circumstances it is only possible (and appropriate) to reply in general terms about mind management, in the case of say being excited before a big event, or studying intently before an important exam. [If you are concerned in anyway about prolonged or regular sleep disturbance then you may need to seek medical advice. The comments posted here are about relaxation and calming the mind in general.]

Assuming you usually sleep fairly well but for some reason your sleep is being disturbed at this time, (given regular physical exercise, an active day, and not too much alcohol or coffee just before bedtime), the most fundamental point is that different parts of the brain ‘kick in’ at different times. The chattering of the mind is often described as the stream of consciousness. The clue here is the word ‘consciousness’. If you want to go to sleep then you don’t want areas of the brain involved with consciousness [being awake] to be ‘switched on’. So the trick is to switch them off.

[Brainstem cell groups that control arousal are in turn regulated by two two groups of cells in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls basic body cycles. Neurotransmitters from one group of cells turn off the arousal systems causing sleep. A second group of cells act as an activating switch, providing excitatory signals to the arousal system.]

I think of using different mental processes as changing ‘mental gear’. The chattering mind involves language (thought) and the step by step processing of information, as the mind goes from one thought to another, mulling over the problem or concern, also activating a physical response that keeps the body alert and active. What we really want is for the brain to be occupied with something more conducive to sleep so that the associated sleep mechanisms can function as normal. So instead of step by step processing we want the spatial ‘mental gear’ to be active, as when walking beside the sea for example, experiencing the sound of the waves, the wind in your face, looking at a beautiful view across the bay, not particularly thinking about anything. Perhaps you’ve experienced such a scene, but suddenly lost that 'in the moment' feeling as something about work springs to mind, and you’re mentally off somewhere completely different—that’s what I mean by a change in mental gear.

Lying in bed at night you can’t see and actually physically experience the seaside. But the physical world you can really experience is your own body. Listening to your breathing, feeling your heartbeat, the tenseness of muscles etcetera, let your breathing become gradually deeper. Listen to the sound of your breathing; feel the body relaxing as it sinks into the bed. If you really concentrate, really focus on the experience of physically slowing down, there will be no random thougths chattering away, only a deepening awareness. This will come with practice. Try it sitting in a chair to begin; you may be surprised at what you start to experience. Once you have got the hang of it and can relax the body in your bed before sleep, then just get into your usual sleeping position and picture a single image in your mind. I use an image of the Buddha, not for any religious reason, but because I associate the image with peacefulness. You might have a particular flower, or view, that does the same for you. The point is that a single image should be associated with a totally relaxed physical body and peaceful mind. In time you may not even need to relax first, just picturing the image may just trigger the peaceful state.

Best wishes / silmhost

BBC webpage where you learn about your sleep profile
silmcoach
Greatest wealth - happy heart, peace of mind :D

optimist
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:39 pm
Location: South London

Re: dam chattering mind keeping me awake!

Post by optimist »

hey sh,
it's really starting to work for me. thanks / o.
If you're going through hell - keep going! Winston Churchill

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