06 Oct Quality of night wakefulness
Your attitude to one or more periods of wakefulness in the night can make all the difference between a restful night and a miserable night. Wakefulness at night is a facet of aging that can provide time to look at life in positive ways, when you’re not occupied with busyness.
What you’ve learned in life
You can spiral down into regret and rumination over past failings – a path to depression – or use wakeful night times to figure out what you’ve learned from various life choices and mistakes. After all, everything you have done has shaped who you are today.
I take comfort from words by Ed Bacon, “…we are all of us better than the worst thing we ever did.” Of course we are! And an attitude of life-long learning feels much better than thoughts of despair and regret, or anger and revenge. And research shows that happy people tend to live longer.
Doing better now
One of the great things about getting older is being able to do better now what you didn’t do as well before. This is a time for doing things differently, and night-time wakefulness can be an opportunity to see yourself in a new light. Don’t demand perfection in yourself. Instead, focus on ways you can be your best self.
As Richard Rohr has said, “We all go toward the very places we avoided for the last forty years, and our friends are amazed.” What have you been avoiding?
Sometimes the solution to a nagging problem can appear during shallow sleep or night-time wakefulness. I spent days trying to figure out how best to quilt together the layers of a quilt I was making. The solution popped into my head one night as I lay in bed, somewhere between shallow sleep and wakefulness.
Getting back to sleep
If you’ve had enough of night-time wakefulness and want to get back to sleep, try counting slowly to 100, or focus on your breathing, to calm your mind and slow down runaway thinking. If your mind strays, just bring it gently back to start over counting from 1, or refocus on your breathing. Start over as many times as your mind strays.