What do you normally do right before bed? You might watch television. You might feel smug and say, “No, I spend a little time catching up on my social networks.” And what we both know is that glowing screens right before bed is rarely soothing. It’s like putting 20 fish hooks on 20 strings into the stream and seeing if something will tug at the line. Something always tugs at the line.
So instead, what if you agreed to 10 nights (just 10 for now) of trying something different and seeing what comes of it?
45 Minutes Before Bed
Pick a set bedtime. This might not be the norm, but indulge me? Again, this is a trial run of 10 nights. Now, set an alarm for 45 minutes before bedtime. At that moment the alarm goes off, you have 15 minutes to wrap up any digital contact. Send that last email or tweet. Watch 15 minutes of whatever.
30 Minutes Before Bed
Bring a notepad and pen. Yes, the physical objects. Hop in bed whether or not the person who shares your bed is ready to go to sleep.This is your trial. You don’t have to impose it on others. The notepad and pen are for any last minute anxious thoughts about something pertaining to tomorrow that need writing down. You have five minutes.
25 Minutes Before Bed
Get comfortable, and then close your eyes. Breathe slowly but deeply. Count your breath for a little bit. Maybe 10 times or so for now. As anxious thoughts try to push you to open your eyes and get the pad again, say this in your head, “Not now. Later.” Believe it or not, it’s okay if you forget the thought you wanted to write down. It’ll come back. Just let all the random weird anxious and must-do thoughts push forward, but simply say, “Not now. Later.”
As You Settle In
Now, repeat this in your head 10 or more times:
* I am warm.
* I am safe.
* I am loved.
* I have a place to sleep tonight.
If you don’t feel any of those are true, expand your thinking. You’re probably warm. “Safe for the moment” is still safe, and we’re dealing with right now. You are loved. Maybe not as much as you want, or by the person you want, or some complexity, but for now, accept that you are loved. And if you think no one loves you, well, I do. So there’s one person. And let’s assume you have a place to sleep.
Say that all ten times: “I am warm. I am safe. I am loved. I have a place to sleep tonight.”
As negative thoughts bubble up against it, say, “Shhhh. It’s okay.” And then go back to repeating this. (You can do this all in your head. No need to get the weird look from whoever’s around.)
It’s right before you’re about to fall asleep.What comes last is counting deep breaths again. Try to get to 50. If you feel stress, just say, “Not now. Later. Shhhh. It’s okay.” Get back to counting your very deep breaths.
Ten days. Try this for just a bit longer than a week. Let me know how it works ( chris @ hbway . com) . I won’t promise miracles. I will promise you’ll tell me something interesting.
And if your eyes are sore, I can read to you.
Chris Brogan wakes up to work at Human Business Works.