How Do You Stop?

“People say they are having a problem getting to sleep.  The problem is not about getting to sleep.  The problem is that people are hyper-aroused.”   A sleep specialist, Dr. Rubin Naiman, in a recent interview at Sounds True  explained what is causing  sleep and dream deprivation, two contributors to depression.  Tami Simon, an extraordinary interviewer, asked Dr. Naiman to elaborate.

We don’t know how to stop.  We multi-task our way to bed.

Dr. Naiman explained that women, especially, have issues with sleep because they work harder than men.  He acknowledged that most women have the responsibility for career and the lion’s share of home management.  They have continuous demands for their attention and engagement.

Just a few days before, I heard Dr. Deepak Chopra state that women today are having less sex than our grandmothers did when they were our age.    His news, given as a contributor to a program called “The Art of Love”, holds no mystery to women who have had no choice in employing the dastardly skills of multi-tasking.

Dr. Chopra said that our relationships require the Three As of love:  Appreciation, Attention and Affection.  Tell this to one of Dr. Naiman’s patients whose stretch marks already incorporate her body, heart and soul.

We’re hyper-aroused.  We don’t know how to stop the insanity of our busyness.

Dr. Naiman worked with a group of car racers at one time.  In conversation, he asked them which part of the race car they considered most important.  He assumed they would say the motor.  He was wrong.

“The brakes,” the drivers said.

“The brakes?”

“Yes,” they explained, “it’s critical to know we can slow down or stop.  Otherwise, we lose confidence to drive fast.”

Straight from the mouths of people who manipulate time almost as effectively as a mother with a sick child.  Knowing how to drive at top speed may win the race, but first, we need to know that our brakes will respond when we need them.

Tami asked how we find our brakes.

We Need A Long Runway

Adopt new rituals, he said.

We can think of ourselves as a sleek jet.   We need a long runway.  A jet hits the runway with braking procedures fully functioning.

Our runway starts long before we climb into bed.  An hour before bed, we’ve landed.  Here are some of our braking procedures:

  • consciously begin to move more slowly.  Catch yourself moving quickly and slow down.
  • dim all the lights.  Our bodies won’t produce Melatonin when lights are glaring.
  • debrief from the day by journalling.  Or talk with your partner.  Explain the day as though it was a dream.
  • soak in a soothing bath.
  • refrain from mental to-do lists once in bed.  Stop ‘tomorrow thoughts’.
  • love the feeling of your bed and look forward to great dreams.

If sleep doesn’t come, he suggests getting out of bed.  Go to a chair and read or write.  When our head bobs, we can go back to bed.  This affirms that  bed is for sleeping – not eating, watching TV, or planning a corporate strategy for replacing the brake linings on all delivery vans.

In addition to giving yourself sleep, I have an idea.  Give someone the Universal Three As of Love – Appreciation, Attention and Affection.  Watch and see what happens.  I bet the braking techniques come a lot easier.  The Universe has a such a way of producing incredible returns on our investments.

Need a little help finding your runway?  Here’s some extra brake lining for your Lear Jet:

66 thoughts on “How Do You Stop?

  1. Hi,
    I think a lot of people have problems with sleeping. I find if I just go to bed and lay there the old mind works overtime. I always read when I go to bed have done so even as a child, this certainly does help, and I always have a good nights sleep.

  2. Another outstanding post. The Ted talk on the bottom of your post is simply the most divinely inspired gratitude prayer I’ve ever heard. There are no words to describe it. Maybe if we would all watch that every night we wouldn’t have trouble falling asleep.

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

  3. I’m hyper as hell, restless and at times, I have trouble sleeping, not because I am thinking too much, but because I’m just wired with too much energy but when I do finally go to bed, I can sleep for 12 hours…

    • Yes, Chris, I too hear a lot of younger people complaining about being so tired. Hopefully, they’ll learn to turn off the phones, the computers, the pagers and the doorbells. Somehow the message that we are all connected has been transformed into “we have to be connected”. Am I sounding ancient? 😉

    • Me, too, Charles. Being the youngest in the family, I was told endlessly that I was going to burn out before I got anywhere. 😀 It never bothered me because I had the energy. But I see how it affected people who thought they wanted to share my lifestyle. Now, I love having time. It is one of the most precious gifts I have.

  4. How about those of us who fall asleep but then wake up at 4 AM with thoughts of “all I have to/want to do today,” and then can’t get back to sleep? My motors rev early. Too early. Sometimes it’s the creative spirit keeps me awake!

    • I wonder about people who are affected by hormonal changes or who have done shift work extensively. The interview did not touch on those factors, but he has a book coming out. It is: “The United States of Consciousness: What Sleep and Dreams Teach Us About Waking;”

      I don’t have sleep problems, thankfully, but I was interested in his findings. When I studied some Psychology at University, I was very intrigued by the fact that dreams are like a mental purgings. If we don’t clean out the “toxins”, they build up.

  5. As long as I stay away from caffeine after 2pm and don’t exercise vigorously (no problem there!) after dinner, I’m good. My body has apparently adjusted to needing less sleep as I’ve gotten older. I don’t have difficulty getting to sleep and sleep soundly for about folur hours and then it’s on and off. Yes, I should get up and be productive but I find just resting is almost as good for my body as actually sleeping. My biggest help in becoming a sleeper is letting go of needless worries.

    • Yah, about that exercise, SuZicate! Just got in from a late walk with a friend. It was dark by the time we returned home so I hope that means we both built up a good dose of serotonin. I love walking in the dark normally, but we foolishly didn’t have reflective clothing on which is important on this island.

      Dr. Naiman, as well as other Doctors, said an average person needs seven or eight hours to rest properly and dream appropriately. While I was busy with career, I would sleep five to six hours a night. I didn’t have trouble getting up in the morning, but every other week or so, I’d go to bed and sleep for 10 to 12 hours. Now I sleep until I wake up and it’s almost always 7 hours.

  6. Great post! Now a days most of the people have this same problem, i.e.Trouble in sleeping. And I am not an exception. While going to bed the tiredness of body& mind is there, still thought of “what to do tomorrow” is going through mind so much that, it makes sleeping just like another day to day routine job just like taking bath, eating or brushing teeth. Some where that peace of mind is missing in everyone of us.
    Thanks for such a beautiful post.

    • Hi Arindam, I hope you can find a way to connect with your inner peace that will endow you with good, deep sleeps and welcome rest. As a wise young person, you are building good habits to take into life. We will need wise old men so do take care of yourself! 🙂

  7. Love this post Amy. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. I come home from so by the time I finally go to bed I’m so wired I can’t sleep …
    Instead of watching the TED show which I love, or reading someone else’s blog I’m going to go soak in a tub and I won’t feel guilty 🙂 Thank you.

    • Too bad you can’t take the TED video into the bath. Those two things would be a great combo! Rosie, I really hope there’s some relief for you. I sound like my mother…oh heck, I’ll just quote her. “Do take care, Darling. You carry such a huge load!”

  8. Once again, you’ve written a terrific post. You offer so much to readers and we’re grateful. I suffer from constant insomnia because I can’t seem to calm my head. I’m always a bit irritated at the end of the day that i have to go to bed and cease the stuff I want to do. My brain shuts down around 8 pm! Of course, I’m almost always up at 4:30 or 5 am, which I prefer – I love the early morning hours, but it makes for a long, long day. I really like the long runway metaphor and the braking procedures. I’ll try to practice them each night.

    The not enough sex thing? Ain’t much I can do about that. ;-(

    • Insomnia was torture the times I experienced it. But to have it constantly has to be ruthless.

      I love the early morning peace and quiet as well. Trouble is, I want to be a night hawk and a morning dove. Doesn’t work!

      Yeah, women are just going to have to create some boundaries if they want to keep their sex lives from diminishing. We delude ourselves into thinking we have to be all things to all people. We keep stretching ourselves every which way to prove we can do it.

      Yep…it’s an inside job!

      Good luck with the new runway. I like the dim lights!

  9. Ack…no afternoon chocolate? My favorite before bed treat is dark chocolate and red wine! Lucky for me, I rarely have sleep issues. Only if I go to bed angry. Then I’ll fall asleep quickly, but wake around 1 or 2 AM and fume through the wee hours. That doesn’t happen often. When It does, it’s best if I just get up and read or write or something. Only one person in my life can upend my equilibrium to this degree and I SHOULD just resolve that issue.

    During my 40’s and early 50’s I often woke around 4 AM. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep, The gym opened at 5, so I used that time to get in some much needed excercise. I’m pretty lucky in the sleep realm.

    But I’ve heard that women’s hormone fluctuations also contribute to sleep loss? Is this now considered to be bunk?

    This is a great post. Most of the women I know suffer from sleep deprivation.

    • You can eat chocolate before bed and still fall asleep? You’re probably slim as well!

      My friends who wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning say that it started when they were in menopause. I may take a peek at Dr. Naiman’s new book to see what he says about hormonal effects.

      You certainly handle your early arousal very well. We have a gym that has a coded entry so it stays open all night. I hadn’t considered that it may have been set up for insomniacs. I just thought it was for fitness maniacs! 😀 In my working days, I would go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. and that was early enough for me!

    • I certainly notice how much better I feel when I work on the computer in increments.

      At night, I can find all sorts of fascinating stuff to review on the computer so I have to wean myself and read or do Sudoku.

  10. The video was wonderful, I especially loved the flowers opening, what incredible photography. His voice was so soothing to as I listened. I am blessed to not have any trouble sleeping. I really liked the soaking in the bath idea, I am down to only 3 bath bombs left, will need to order more.

    • Soothing is the very word that came to my mind as I watched that video. Glad you enjoyed it, Dee.

      So you are still loving the bath bombs…that’s good. I know the woman who makes them – she shapes them with her hands. I’ll have to ask her to throw in an extra measure on the ones she makes for you! 😀

  11. Oh, the evils of multitasking. I was reading recently that multitasking actually negatively effects intelligence, and just today our local news carried a story on sleep issues and women, reporting much the same as here.

    This is a wonderful post filled with wisdom – your hallmark – I love just about everything that Sounds True produces and that video is dear and healing.

    Thank you! And thanks for visits to “Into the Bardo” and your many comments (especially those left for Ann), which add to the quality of the experience for others.

    With love and gratitude,

    • You are ever so welcome, Jamie. You, Ann and Rob have become very special to me.

      I’m so glad to see your comments about multi-tasking. It is evil. The corporate world loves its profitability and milks people with it! It is time for it to be challenged. It’s undermining relationships.

  12. This is a tremendous post. I find in it great affirmation in the path I am on. I can tell when I need to slow down, and I don’t apologize for it. Thank you for this TED, which is just amazingly beautiful.


  13. So….being lazy has it’s upside.
    I am an expert at slowing down.
    I started watching the video at home but it kept pausing.
    I left it loading so will watch it this evening.

    • There’s the snag, Granny. Quality down time is not laziness. Don’t ever estimate the tremendous value of an hour with Tom on your lap, Jasmine at your feet and your with your quiet. Or, Mex giving you a massage! Okay…maybe not an hour’s massage.

  14. When I was young? I slept little.I always wanted to get all the work done because that gave me permission to play. …and play time is what I worked for. I like that this video mentions nothing like this division of time and that a day is a day, each moment of it to be savored. I have learned that same message as I have aged. I consider that lesson one of the gifts I was given, this lifetime, to learn. My heart grew to one section of this video. It was the part that he spoke of the many people and their faces and suggested they were like life cleansing water. Wow! Thank you, Amy!

    • I went on retreat to the Benedictine Monastery in Santa Barbara. (Sadly this monastery burned in the fires a few years ago!). Benedictines follow a rule of thirds – that life is to be embraced in all three: Worship, Work, Leisure. None of these are to be more important than the other since each one contains an expression of the other two. Balance is the key. That experience taught me how to put love into tasks and tasks into love.

      That old gent on that video holds the key! It’s that simple; yet so complex to get there.

  15. This is a wonderful post! It’s taken me many decades to find my sleep remedy but alas, it works for me. Nothing is allowed in my bedspace but a good stretch before I climb into bed, followed by deep breathing and gratitude prayers. That’s it. I wake up the same way. Simple. Should have done it decades ago! 🙂

    • What a fabulous bit of work, Suzen! I love hearing about success stories. You have built your runway the perfect length. I think “simple” is the key word – which is why the runway concept offered by Dr. Naiman is brilliant. In applying the braking procedures appropriately, sleep has a chance to wrap us in relief when our head is peacefully placed on the pillow.

  16. Oh, I hope Granny got a good look–what a wonderful clip. I might haffta watch that a second and third time.

    Open your heart–open your eyes…..excellently done.

    As for that sleep/slowing down deal? I don’t do moderation well. And I hear everything said–believe it even. I just gave up my quest to develop and refine my ability to say ‘done, tyvm!’.
    I keep an agenda and a routine, things get tossed into it as the day progresses and I get to make adjustments.
    There are days when I think…..I can’t DO more–and I do, grateful that another opportunity has been availed to be.
    There are moments when suddenly agendas clear and….voile’, I’m free. I tend to pause, look around and listen to see if MAYBE I missed something I was ‘suppose’ to take care of and sonofagun loads of time I get ‘YES……you’.

    Then I know.

    He’s good like that–but it took me forEVER to actually LISTEN.
    I’m deaf like that. LOL (okayokay……’stubborn and willful’ is probably more accurate!)
    Works for me who knows no moderation.

    Sleep–I’ve always been a minimalist in that category. I average about 4-5 hours. Somehow that’s worked for me in my lifetime.
    Maybe I’m SUPPOSE to be keeping the coffee bean pickers of the world employed, huh? 😉

    • There are people who really can get along very well with less sleep. I suspect the good Doctor has a list of those people and maybe you on it, Mel~!

      Yes, I hope to come across and view the whole series that this cinematographer has created on the subject of beauty.

  17. So much wisdom in this posting. I sleep like a baby, can sleep standing in a bus for that matter, but I definitely could need to slow down. How revealing the answer from the car racers was! I’ll start looking for my brakes – maybe I’ll find them.

    • I hope you find those brakes, Otto, and that you have many years of a slower pace in front of you. I’m so grateful to have reached a point in life where I have the freedom to set my own pace. I see by your blog that you have the added challenge of a long distance love. I hope to still be in contact to see where you two decide to retire. Maybe a third location? Come North to my little island! 😀

  18. You’re so right. We are WAY TOO BUSY getting on with our lives, to take time out to rest properly.
    My hubby always says we can rest forever once we die, we live to work! work! work! (bless his heart)

    • Oh boy, Mish – to each his own. It sounds like you have an accepting heart. Hopefully you also accept your pace without comparing. A good balance has its pay day – but I wasn’t too interested in looking at that when I was flying about with frayed stitching!

  19. This post resonates with me so completely as I do….multi task my way to bed…hence the sleep problem! Have to put all this to good use…sleeping! However I do believe I am amongst those who do need less sleep…but then again most times I have no choice!
    Loved the video…many thanks Amy!

    • Oh Shama, to have no choice is a huge challenge. At those times, it can be difficult to keep resentment from creeping in. That’s even more draining. I’m going to visualize you wrapped in loving and healing light. I’ll visualize you being held as a child – sleeping…even though you require less than most. 🙂

  20. This is great stuff, Amy. “Consciously begin to move more slowly.” I’ve never thought of that. I’m going to try it, starting tonight. In fact, I’m going to follow all of those bullet points, and your suggestion to share appreciation, attention, and affection. (I think those last three would work wonders during the day, too.)

    Thank you for this.

    • Charles, as I read you comment, it hit me…could I “key” more slowly? No. I have to stop entirely. It would be impossible for me to type slowly. I’d probably be stuttering in my dreams!

      I wonder…will there be a post about your new runway? Why am I chuckling as I write this…? 😀

      At the risk of being soppy, I believe you already live with Appreciation, Attention and Affection. It just shows, Charles!

  21. sooo true. it’s hard to find the brakes in life, and when we find them, sometimes we suffer from feeling guilty for “not being more productive.” i guess we also need to stop and remember that sometimes putting on the brakes is being productive 🙂

    • One of the things our mother taught us was to do nothing. As a kid, I thought I would die of nothingness. It was agony. However, during times in my life where demands seem to be coming from every corner, I knew my place of calm. I still know how to go there in an instant. Even if I have to go to the washroom and close the door.

      A person does not speed with grace.

  22. Thank you Amy for this reminder. I especially love analogies and metaphors. I will remember the race car drivers…Brakes!!

    In my line of work, I find many reasons why people have insomnia, wide and varied. I suffer myself, and one of the reasons is not being able to control my mind and the infinite details it bombards me with. The conundrum is that it can also be a time of great inspiration, ideas, and intuition…

    I LOVE the video you shared here. I barely have the attention span to view anything longer than 2 minutes, which speaks volumes in itself. But fortunately I slowed down enough to read your post and view the video (TED is great). I thought everything about it was brilliant (and the wise & precious child!). I am working on a post about gratitude, and I am now going to include this video as well.

    I am grateful to you for your wise words, encouragement, and talented storytelling.

    🙂 Maggie

    • Metaphors, stories, analogies – they really do help the memory and the message, don’t they, Maggie. Thank you so very much for your comment. It came at a perfect time. Many blessings for speaking your encouragement, dear woman.

      I’m so glad the video will be in your post. It deserves all kinds of exposure.

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