by Anne Malatt, Australia
“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care.” (William Shakespeare, Macbeth)
I have always struggled with sleep.
Ever since I was very young, I remember not wanting to go to sleep, having trouble falling asleep, waking during the night and not being able to go back to sleep, and waking in the morning feeling more tired than I was the night before. I used to stay up late, trying to avoid sleep. When I was in my teens, I began drinking to try and help me sleep, which only made the problem worse. I tried everything, and nothing helped (except chamomile tea, which left a strange taste in my mouth).
One day, in desperation, I decided to take the advice of a good friend and go to bed early. It was a revelation! I woke the next morning after a sound sleep, feeling rested and vital and looking forward to the day.
Knowing this, why do I still struggle with sleep?
I have come to know that the way I sleep is a reflection of the way I live the day.
If I live a day in anxiousness, pushing myself, driving myself to complete tasks, that energy is still in my body (and my head) when I go to sleep.
If I come home from work late, and still have to make dinner, eat dinner, clean up afterwards and let my dinner digest, I am not ready to go to bed early.
If I eat too much food, I cannot sleep for a few hours.
If I do not feel complete about my day, I take it to bed with me.
I have come to know that preparing for sleep takes the whole day.
The quality of my sleep is a reflection of the way I have lived the day.
The quality I wake up in reflects the way I have slept, which reflects the way I lived the day before.
The quality I wake up in is the quality I take to the next day.
Knowing this, sleep is everything.
So, if sleep matters so much, how do I do it?
The first thing I have learned is to understand how important sleep is and to make a commitment to going to sleep in the quality I would like – in gentleness, in love.
To do this I need to live my day in full, to feel complete when my work day is done, and to wind down in the quality I would like to go to sleep in.
The winding down rhythm at the end of the day is all important.
For me, it means finishing work at 5pm, feeling that my day is complete.
It means leaving work at work, and coming home in a way that allows me to bring home me, and only me.
It means preparing and eating food that nourishes and supports me, without overeating.
It means spending the evening resting and playing, without over-stimulation.
It means allowing enough time to get ready for bed in the evening, as I do to get ready for the day in the morning.
Sleep does so much for us, if we but allow it. It is up to us to support ourselves, to bring ourselves to sleep with love, so that we can bring the fullness of ourselves to each and every day.
My understanding of this has been inspired by Natalie Benhayon, who is a living example of the truth of this work.