Sleep is one of the most important things we do during our day. It enables us to heal ourselves, to recharge the batteries, work through problems and challenges at a deeper, subconscious level, and to rebuild our kidney energy.
Have you ever found it difficult to get to sleep? Have you lain awake while your mind went at a million miles an hour? Or got to sleep only to wake through the night over and over again?
Or, alternately, have you ever gone straight to sleep and woken hours later, though it only feels like ten, with a deep sense of peace and restored energies? A sense of such relaxation that your first impulse is simply to stretch out along the bed?
This first scenarios is due to first our system is in the over-adrenalised state of a fight:flight response. We are hyperalert, listening out for the threats lurking around us. This state has survival advantage when we are in hostile territory. Unfortunately, in our modern world we respond in the same way to the stresses of work, life and relationshps just as we would have when there were predators or hostile forces nearby.
Even worse, as we get exhausted due to lack of sleep our adrenals have to work even harder to keep us going, making it harder for us to sleep the next night. We’re not reaching the deeper stages of sleep, and this means we’re not regenerating and receiving all the benefits of sleep. In fact, this cycle of stress-poor sleep-more stress is the same cycle experienced by those with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Unfortunately for many of us the stress of our lives has caused sufficient trauma to our systems that we are in this state.
In the alternate state we are operating from our rest: regeneration system, rather than our fight:flight one. Our system is running off dopamine and endorphines, which represent the healthy and happy biochemistry, rather than adrenaline, which is neither happy nor healthy.
In sleep, our brain cycles through the different states. These are indicated by the level of activity, or brain wave, in our brain at any time. The beta state is linked with stress and worry over stuff like the mortgage, or state of the world, or what we need to do. The alpha state is anything from being relaxed but alert, down to when we’re dreaming. We need to be at least in alpha to get to sleep and dreams assist us to solve problems but in alpha we don’t regenerate. Theta gives us truly restorative sleep, though delta is deeper. Most of us spend no more than a few minutes in delta in an entire night’s sleep. We cycle up and down from alpha to delta through the night. In healthy sleep we spend most of our time in theta. With more stress, the longer we’ll spend in alpha and the less in theta and delta.
The way to achieve effective sleep is to be able to get down into theta as quickly as possible and stay down there as long as possible. As you can see on the right, in the lighter cycles we spend less time in the deeper states, and some cycles miss the deeper states entirely. When we are stressed we skip over the deeper cycles and keep to these lighter cycles. This is another way of saying we spend all night wrestling with our problems. One way to ensure we get into the deeper states is to find a way to put our problems aside during sleep time.
Simple lists can help us put our problems aside. By writing a list of what we’re going to do the next day our mind can let go of them until then. But only if we can put this list into a space which is associated with our work, and that is separate from our sleep space. In other words, putting our lists on our devices, if we take those devices to bed with us, sometimes is not enough of a separation.
In Fractology we understand the power of our focus. This is the whole point of the glass being half full or half empty. Of course, the simple truth is that it is both, but whatever we focus on strongly effects our attitudes and our experiences, and hence our energy, our health and our general enjoyment of life. When we focus on what is full, what is empty falls away from our awareness. Focusing on our own unique resonance, or by flowing appreciation to ourselves, is another way to help ourselves disconnect and reach deeper states.
The more we can support our system to reduce its adrenaline load the better we will sleep. This is why exercise can be very helpful. Recent studies of interval training has shown that it is a powerful way of reducing the levels of adrenaline in our system. Interval training means doing just one minute of exercise at a time, but that minute is all out. Doing this when we first get home from work is an excellent way of reducing our stress and assisting our bodies to switch off. As they say we only need six minutes of this intense effort a week, in six lots of one minute, by doing it each day after work we can nearly ensure we achieve this level.
There are many other techniques, some of which work better for some people than for others. The most important point is, as always, to find the techniques that work for you, that enable your system to get the maximum ‘reboot’ of your fractal system in those deeper states of sleep. This is one of the ways we can all help ourselves to flourish.