5. Wear a blindfold for sleeping
Not at home, but on one’s travels. If you do a lot of flying, you need to juggle jetlag (biological disorientation caused by quick changes of time zone), different world zones and demands for a flexible timetable. You simply have to sleep when it’s possible.
A blindfold over the eyes gives you total blackout, an escape from light. My partner bought some special noise-cancelling headphones where you can hear just silence, a calming nothing in deep darkness.
Simply do anything to avoid so-called sleep deprivation. This is the condition when you feel tired even after the night’s sleep. You’re at work and realise that you aren’t infallible. This is still ok. It’s worse after several days of too little sleep. Your senses get so dulled that you stop being aware of the mistakes you are making. You continue in your work even though the error rate is rising. You instinctively eat more and all of a sudden you’re putting on weight – you need to get energy from somewhere and insufficient sleep unfortunately disrupts the production of insulin, which leads to increased sugar levels in the blood and an almost uncontrollable compulsion to have some industrial sugars, and quickly.
The Australian trainer Tim Mitchell, who loves Ayurveda, taught me to enter a different world, which is perhaps the best type of relaxation for the brain.
“We have about twenty thousand thoughts every day. And if we have a serious problem besides, we keep on returning to it, considering it from all sides so that the number of thoughts rises to as many as thirty thousand. And we’re surprised we can’t sleep!”
Relaxing the mind involves reducing its flow to one single thought. Some can do this even in the shower, concentrating just on the water flowing over their body, nothing else. That considerably calms the mind – not the drops of water, but the concentration on a single thing, switching off inner overstrain.
Meditation is the winner for me because it takes me to a half-sleep state. You aren’t completely asleep yet, but are already relaxing. And what is important – the 15 to 20 minutes that meditation takes isn’t long enough to fall into the deep REM phase. (Maybe you know how you paradoxically wake up feeling tired, disoriented or in a bad mood if you have a nap during the day. It just takes a little light or an unexpected noise that the daytime is full of and you’re dragged ruthlessly out of the REM phase, like a rabbit from its skin). An hour before bedtime, meditation is a wonderful, natural way of calming your inner self.
7. Read from paper
They said it would be the end of paper. You can have books on tablets, after all. We’re in a new age, the publishers argued. But in Europe, people are reading more and more paper books.
And that is good. Sometimes before going to sleep, open this intoxicating mixture of woody aroma and printer’s ink to immerse yourself in the letters. They have nothing to do with work emails or the daily problems of life, they just help you organise your thoughts.
© Petr Casanova