My Love of Sleep

Fabulous sleep is one of my favourite topics. Twenty years ago, I suffered a bout of insomnia, so I know how distressing this is. It depletes and undermines every aspect of life. It leaves you anxious, drained and depressed. As a long-term mindfulness practitioner, I decided to tackle the problem mindfully. At first, nothing worked. But one night I had an idea which led me deliciously into sleep. Even better, I soon found I was able to sleep at will.

My first attempts to get back to sleep involved trying to meditate in the night. But I couldn’t do it. Perhaps I was just too sleepy to really give it a go. But to be frank, I didn’t want to meditate. I wanted to sleep! I was worried that doing something else (meditating, reading, whatever) would just wake me up even more.

Then, one night, I had an idea. Drawing on a different kind of mindfulness approach (known as Focusing), I wove together a few different mindfulness practices in a new way. And then, in the middle of a sleepless night, something changed. Rather than chasing after my sleepy feelings, I found that my sleepy feelings were chasing me. It took me some weeks more, or even months, to understand and refine my ideas. But when I had, I discovered how to nod off, even on the most wakeful of nights. Ever since, I have enjoyed healthy and supportive sleep, with no recurrence of the insomnia. If I wake in the night, I am able to recover sleep. I can trust and enjoy my body’s innate sleep patterns. These are skills I love to share, and that anyone can learn. 

At root, our bodies know how to sleep. They want to sleep. Our job is to re-learn what our bodies and beings can do so well. If we give ourselves the conditions we need, and practices that help, we don’t need to lie awake waiting for sleep to arrive. It will come uncalled. And if not, on nights when sleep stays stubbornly absent, we know how to entice it back.

To share what I discovered takes a step-by-step introduction. I would need to explore each piece of the jigsaw with you, before putting them together as a whole. Rather like a jigsaw, it can take time for the full picture to emerge. This is a practice, not a quick fix. Even so, people often tell me they enjoy positive changes early in the process. I hope you will join me in exploring the magical processes of sleep.

In the meantime, please don’t despair. There is a way to sleep soundly and happily.


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If you are tempted by my four-week course, its themes are:

Getting to bed: sleep ‘procrastination’, tuning into natural body rhythms with daytime practices to aid nighttime sleepiness

Getting to sleep: healthy pre-bed activities, more sleep practices based on sleep cycles

Staying asleep: further sleep practices, awareness of dreams, and 8-hour ‘rest opportunity window’

Waking up fresh: un-alarmed mornings, ‘inner wake up’ calls, preparing for fresh wakeful days.