Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend who, during the course of our delightful conversation, complained about her recent sleeplessness. As we analysed the various reasons for her problem, which ranged from not getting enough exercise to being stressed out over work, I began to think about what made sleep work.
So, what is sleep?
I wake up between 5 and 5:30 am every day and without the help of an external alarm. Because I have one that works internally. The human body has an internal clock ticking within it, right from the time we are formed in our mother’s womb. And this clock does not stop ticking until the time we die.
Sleep is a big clock within this bigger clock. It starts ticking from the time we lose our conscious and stops when we wake up. Or every time we wake up, depending on our sleeping patterns.
What are the things that pushes us into losing our consciousness?
Sleep is a slow build-up of what we do throughout the day. In other words, sleep is a result of energy usage. And energy usage has a lot to do with energy consumed – our eating patterns. Are we eating healthy? Is what we eating enough? Are we eating on time? And are we using energy or accumulating it?
While food plays a key role in setting our body clocks, there is another energy to factor in that affects our sleeping patterns. This energy comes from within the body, and it is the energy of our thoughts.
How is thinking an energy?
The human mind never stops thinking even when we are sleeping. This makes thinking a continuous process, a movement of some kind. We all know that any movement creates energy. That is how thinking becomes a fuel.
Because, it is thinking that pushes us into doing. The words that I am typing out is the energy that I use because of the energy that I have accumulated due to my thoughts. If my words remain in my thoughts and never get realized, I would end up storing a lot of thought energy.
Isn’t storage good?
Imagine not using the energy that you have consumed through eating. You would either be eating and sitting or eating and sleeping. We all know that physical and mental health problems are what happens next. This is because of energy accumulation.
A similar thing happens when we store our thoughts. And it is called overthinking. What overthinking leads to is an excess of everything. We over-analyse things, over-emote situations, and over-do whatever little that we do. Overthinking happens when there is no balance between the thinking and the doing.
And all of this is connected to sleep because…
Overthinking leads to an accumulation of thought energy, which is in turn, connected to sleeplessness.
One night, just before he went to sleep, my son announced that going to sleep every night is like dying. As I lay next to him wondering what on earth that was all about, I understood that his statement had to do with the conscious and subconscious mind.
It is the conscious mind that keeps us aware. When sleep happens, we lose this state of awareness. That is how sleeping is like dying.
Which means, to sleep well, we need to become dead tired.
The energy that we have consumed during the day through our food and our thoughts need to be used adequately. Meaning, we should be left with only enough energy to keep the sleep clock running. It is only as long as there is a balance between energy consumed, and energy used; will we be led into sleep time at the right time. And stay asleep until it is time to wake up.
It is this balance that helps us set our sleep clock.
But how do we figure out what our energy balance is?
The only way to figure out our energy balance is by becoming aware of our energy consumption and usage. Ask yourself these questions. It helps to note down your results.
Am I eating right
- Is the food that I am eating healthy, on time, and in the right quantity?
- Am I getting enough physical work?
- How tired do I feel during the day?
Am I thinking right
- Where is my focus – am I able to think about my work for the day?
- How much time do I spend on my emotions?
- When do I feel stressed out during the day?
- Am I overthinking?
Analyse your contentment factor
A person who is content with life will be content in his death. Our contentment with sleep works in the same way. Before bedtime, think about all that you have done during the day – your highs and your lows. Have you been able to complete the tasks that you have set out for yourself? How satisfactory has your physical, mental and emotional performance been during the day?
The key to sleep lies in finding this contentment factor. For when we feel contented, we also feel calm. And calm, is always the best lullaby.
Set your clock to tick for you. Have a peaceful sleep time!
Read my earlier article on Why Sleep is Crucial