Article From Corporate Health, South Africa, Volume 2, No 1.
By Rod Briggs
It’s happened to most of us – we have a big day looming so we go to bed early to be at our best the next day. The result - - an awful night, leading to exactly the kind of outcome we were trying to avoid. A basic understanding of the way our brain works and a little common sense is all that is needed to avoid this and other sleep disorders.
Ever since Puthoff and Targ’s sleep laboratory work in the 60’s, much has been known about the technical side of sleep – what happens to our physiology, our sleep cycles and brain rhythms, has all been charted and monitored, discussed and dissected. Little of this, however, has dealt with the paradox of sleep. The jury is still out on why we sleep. Why do some need more than others and why our brain rhythms should fluctuate so much. Dr. John Bigalow in his Mysteries of Sleep describes sleep as a recharging and regrouping of the soul., which raises more questions than it answers. But, perhaps, as is so often the case, Shakespeare hit the nail on the head with “To sleep….perchance to dream”.
One of the most vital components of sleep is the dream state. Persons subject to dream deprivation develop waking dreams, hallucinations and neurotic tendencies very quickly. We can go without sleep, but dreaming is vital to our mental health. We all dream every night, although some people remember their dreams only rarely. Dreams form in a specific brain rhythm of 8 to 13 hertz, known as the Alpha wave. This is the area of REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) and is the component of sleep in which our intuitive side takes over. It is the root of our gut feel, or still small voice and is accessed in our waking state during times of “day dreaming.” People with the ability to catnap for 20 minutes at a time feel so refreshed due to the amazing rejuvinative properties of Alpha sleep. We also heal ten times faster when in this state. Whenever we are in a “flow” state, performing an activity seemingly effortlessly, we are using an Alpha rhythm. Goleman calls it the “neurobiology of excellence.”. It has been lauded by Einstein, Bach, Shakespeare and Sir Lawrence Van Der Post and is available on tap by learning to adjust your brain rhythms.
When stress interferes with our sleeping patterns it is tempting to use alcohol or sleeping pills. Although they help us sleep they interfere with our Alpha rhythm, leading to cotton wool heads and feelings of tiredness in spite of having had a full night’s sleep.
So, what should be done the night before a “big day”? Simply stick to your regular sleeping routine and just before retiring for the night access a deeply relaxed state using any relaxation procedure, or the technique below, and then mentally rehearse the “big day”, allowing the emotion you want to feel during the event to dominate. After running it through to your satisfaction, go to sleep normally. You may repeat the procedure in the morning should you deem it necessary.
1. Sit or lie comfortably
2. Take three deep breaths, focusing on relaxing while exhaling.
3. Let your breathing return to normal (through the nose)
4. Let your focus drift, picking up impressions. Do not concentrate on any one, do not avoid any thing either
5. Bring your attention back to your breath. Feel it getting finer and finer
6. Focus exclusively on your breath. As other thoughts pop into your mind, mark them irrelevant and return your attention to the breath
7. Start counting your breath. Do not skip or miss a count
8. If you forget what number you were on, and you will in the beginning, go back to 0 and start again
9. Stay focused and counting for approximately 10 minutes
10. Allow the count to stop and in the ensuing relaxed state allow the images of your big day to run
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