Sleep. We all need it. Research shows that it's during sleep that we heal our bodies and our minds. If we don't get enough or wake up at the wrong moment in the sleep cycle, it can hurt us, make us fat, hamper our work life, endanger our driving, and more.
This is my last week at the day job I've held for three years. My three-day writing retreat starts tomorrow. I have next week off to write and to catch up on a myriad of appointments and organizing that I don't usually have time for. After that I start a new job with a new commute and more hours.
As a result, my brain is full of plans, ideas, things I want to remember. Lists go something like:
- Don't forget to bring the lesson on the Three-Act structure to the retreat. And peanut butter. And the wine opener.
- Remember to finish filling out the multi-page Author's Questionnaire from Kensington Publishing.
- Call Mom and remind her you'll be out of phone contact on the weekend.
- Write up that memo for your replacement at the job saying where your files are and how you create PDFs of the user guides.
- Call the tax preparer. But first, get all the tax stuff together: Find the mortgage interest statement. List all the charitable contributions from two checkbooks and twelve Visa statements. List all professional expenses (from two checkbooks and twelve Visa statements). And so on.
- Make appointment for 60,000-mile service on the Prius.
- And the wine. And some apples. And the dark chocolate. And the yoga mat. And the laptop charger.
See what I mean?
So when I wake up at three AM, I start thinking. I add to the lists in my mind. Often I have a hard time getting back to sleep. One time-honored trick I use is to count backwards from 1000.
Another, often used simultaneously with counting, is to imagine I'm floating in a cove at a Greek beach, warm water, gentle sunshine, rocking motion.
I do keep a little pad of paper and a pen by my bed so I can reach out and jot an item down. Occasionally that helps. And I always get exercise earlier in the day, which should assist good sleeping.
But those tricks don't always work. When I know the alarm is going to off at five AM, the slight panic that sets in doesn't help.
What's your favorite trick for getting back to sleep?