I slept good last night. I was in bed before 9 p.m. and fell right to sleep. I woke at 1:30 a.m. wide awake. I used breath counting to control unwanted ruminations and got back to sleep rather quickly. The alarm went off just before 5 am, as usual. Jennifer and I snuggled for a while. I was refreshed. According to the National Sleep Foundation adults need 8 hours of sleep. Our night’s sleep consist of 5 or 6 cycles of near waking to deep sleeping. At 1:30 a.m. last night I reached a near wake point that spilled over into wakefulness. As I counted my breaths and diverted thoughts that could add to my wakefulness I gently returned to sleep for the rest of the night. I remember that my father had difficulty with sleeping so I use to assume that poor sleeping was just part of life. But I discovered some great research and gained insight and now my sleep is much better.
Thankfully our entire brain does not sleep, like the parts that controls our heart rate and our breathing. Those crazy fearful dreams and thoughts originate from fear and anxiety regions in tandem with the visual areas (that accounts for images).
In a recent dream I could not find the ambulance. There was an emergency and I needed to take the ambulance to the emergency site. When I searched the parking garage it was not there. I searched from place to place looking for the ambulance. As I searched I was aware that my heart rate was racing. I could feel the adrenaline at work in my body. In real life I do not own an ambulance and I have no connections with ambulances. It was a powerful dream experience fabricated in a non-sleeping part of my brain while the controlling areas were inaccessible. I used to wonder if these dreams had spiritual or psychological significance; they do not. Dreams are merely the product of brain chemistry running wild while the areas of my brain that would normally restrain crazy thoughts rests.
While dreams can have meaning I stopped looking to dreams as important way to gain insight. I had powerful and meaningful dreams when my father passed away. They were more than just a grief response. A lifetime of his presence, influence and memory are deeply embedded in my brain. In a real way he lives in my brain. When he visited my dreams he was a source of wisdom and encouragement. Unfortunately I don’t dream of him much anymore and I miss his insights. Wisdom comes to me from more wakeful sources. I do keep a pen and note pad near my bed in case I solve a big problem or get a great insight in the middle of the night. I can not remember the last time I used it. My favorite dreams are flying dreams.
In spite of sleep research advances many scholars still wonder why we sleep. You would think that it is to rest, right? But sleep remains a scientific mystery. What’s not a mystery is that sleep deprivation is not healthy. I need my sleep. Frankly, I need all the help I can get! So I tend to my sleep rituals of going to bed at a regular time, breathing through wakeful moments, paying attention to dreams. I know that my day of loving depends upon a good night’s sleep. I will need 100% of my mental and physical resource at a moment’s notice because the one I love in this new day may be the one who will help save the future.
How do you manage your sleep?