A week ago I wrote that My Sleep Habits Are Morphing Again and yesterday was no different. I’d gotten the August Horizons Magazine off the the printer at 6:00am and it was a day I could rest and relax and snooze all day if I wanted to. However, each time I fell asleep the phone rang. Finally about 6:00pm I just went into bed and darkened my room and slept until 3:00am. It was one of those good sleeps, where you wake up for a few moments every few hours and just bask in the feeling of the sheets and the breeze from the fan and know you don’t have to be up for hours and hours.
I’ve never been a recreational sleeper. Like a kid, I never wanted to go to bed; I’d usually just go, go go until I crashed. I did enjoy naps, but to me, sleeping was something you had to do, not something you did for fun. When I hit menopause, my sleep cycles began to change – dramatically. I morphed into getting only 3-4 hours of sleep at night. If I napped during the day, I’d nap for 3 hours at a time, which I learned was four REM cycles. Even my 3-4 hours at night would not be uninterrupted.
Often I’d just catnap through the night and sometimes awaken feeling exhausted from not getting any sleep. That’s – I later learned – because every time I’d wake up, I’d think thoughts like “Oh, here I am awake again. I need to go to sleep. I wonder why I can’t sleep. I wonder what’s wrong with me. Maybe I should go to the doctor. I have a test tomorrow. I have to be alert at work tomorrow. What if I ending up not sleeping enough and become one of those people who say they don’t sleep for years? I don’t want to take medication but what are my options? I wish I could sleep.” Since those were the thoughts I began thinking the moment I woke up at night, and those were the thoughts I lulled myself back to sleep with, that was the message I was sending the cells of my body, pre-programming them for the future.
But early on I got some guidance that if I am being woken up, then God/the Universe is calling me and I should hit the floor and see what He/She/It wants. It was during these extra times of meditation that I realized what great opportunities I was being given, several times a night, to spend a few minutes working on whatever projects I had at the time.
I stopped trying to race the clock to be able to have enough hours of down time lying in bed before I had to begin the next day. I realized all I had to do was change how I perceived my waking/sleeping times, and change how I perceived when the “next day” officially began, and what my new “first thing in the morning” routine would be.
So I realized that with the correct mindset, with a change in perception to the correct mindset, I could adapt to what my body was doing and still interface without effort in my daily life, my day job and daily family duties. That was eye-opening to me.
So, when you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, answer the call. Sit up a meditate for a few minutes. Have a notebook handy to write ideas as they come. Also when you sit to meditate, your mundane “to do” list will come up to tempt your attention away – if you can’t ignore it and release the thought, write it down and get back to meditating. Keep another notebook handy for writing dreams into.
I hear lots of stories of menopausal women who do not adapt well to their changing sleep cycles and my consensus is: all of them are on a quest to find deeper meaning in their lives, all would like to explore other ways of living and being, yet feel saddled with responsibilities that prevent them from setting out on their own. Empty nest – they wish!
So, if you know one of them, a slight shift in perception might be all they need in order to begin adapting more easily to what Nature is doing with their body right now.