Why I Lay Awake in Bed Night After Night & Practices That Help
This article is the very first blog I wrote for The Hidden Why. I thought it might be worth my time to revisit old posts with an effort to reflect on how my thoughts and beliefs have adjusted. It also gives me the opportunity to correct grammatical mistakes and clean up my writing without promising that there are none in this revised article.
In all transparency, I was not surprised by the amount of errors I made and the poor quality of my original writing. The good news is that I have certainly noticed how far my writing has come. I wrote this piece about 2 and a half years.
What I enjoyed was seeing how my perspectives have changed and yet my voice has remained very consistent. I have tried to keep this post as close to the original as possible without taking too much away from my initial intention. However, I have summarized and closed with slightly different thoughts.
In summary, I think it’s more important to go about designing a lifestyle we love than to find practices that help us cope with a lifestyle that brings us displeasure, dissatisfaction or discomfort. Like laying awake in bed night after night at 3 in the morning feeling anxious about life.
Without further ado, I represent my original, which was titled “It’s 3 am In The Morning And Feeling Anxious.”
Lying awake in bed at 3 am in the morning with a head full of thoughts and feeling anxious. I feel like crying but am not able. I feel like running away but know that’s not an option. I feel like doing a whole number things, anything to escape these undesirable early morning blues. I have no idea how but I know deep down that there is need of change. Why?
Firstly, the reason I am awake at such hours may have something to do with an early morning nature call caused by overdrinking. A habit that consistently seems to interrupt my sleep at strange hours of the morning.
Alternatively, it may have something to do with my daughter deciding that sleeping with mum and dad for the night is a good idea. And as she lays there she thinks that instead of sleeping talking about breakfast while singing nursery rhymes is a good idea.
No matter the cause of my interrupted sleep patterns, when I awake at 3 am I find it incredibly difficult to put my thoughts back to sleep. The truth is a lot is going on in life right now, and at this time of the morning when there are silence and a lack of distractions, my thoughts run wild.
Sometimes the thoughts are positive and powerful ones, and at other times they are thoughts of doom and gloom. On this particular morning, the state of my mind was undesirable. I felt scared, alone and lost and this was leaving me feeling a lack of hope for my future, both immediate and distant.
Usually, these occurrences would result in me remaining awake for the remainder of the morning. Then as I proceeded into the day frazzled, tired and with a decreased mood and lowered sense of motivation, reflected by my behaviors, I’d accept it as somewhat normal.
To help me forget about it, to numb the pain and escape, I’d actively partake in activities like drinking. I would seek out short-term pleasure fixes that made me feel a bit better. I know now that these behaviors are highly unfavorable and do nothing to resolve the underlying problems but exacerbate them.
The consistent disruption to my sleep that found me awake most mornings should have been a clear signal that something was wrong. That something needed to change. I couldn’t see clearly through the for and chaos of the cluttered mind.
On this particular morning, I was anxious and uncertain and here is why. Firstly, I had just returned home to once again face the reality of my life after a very long and highly liberating holiday across the other side of the globe. I enjoyed time with family, drinking great wine, eating excellent food, and having a variety of amazing cultural experiences. Here I was, back to the grind.
Now don’t be mistaken, I have a lot to be grateful for in life. There is nothing like sleeping in your bed. I have many great possessions. I love my neighbors, family, and friends. Australia is a beautiful and fortunate country and most of the time I like my job. Even with all these things, nothing helped in pushing aside my emotions and thoughts on this night. They just didn’t matter.
It’s pretty common to feel this way after an excellent vacation.
The reality is that it can take some time to readjust, to get back into the routine of life with your health, work, family and social functions. Also, if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to afford such holidays and all these luxuries I have in life. Plus I have a bunch of projects I wish to pursue, and these things need funding.
Here is what I am left wondering. If I know this is how I feel after every time I take a holiday then why do I let it bother me? Why does it make me feel so shit? Why do I struggle with these thoughts? Why do I allow it to affect not only my sleep but the attitude and how I show up every day?
Is this a normal part of life that I just have to accept and deal with or am I only making excuses for some aspects of my life, my reality, that is undesirable and requires my attention to change?
I feel like a ship, overloaded with cargo on a journey to a destination that is unknown and not as I desire. Weighed down, overwhelmed, obstructed with fear, stress, and pain to the point that this ship feels like it is moving nowhere. Life seems stagnant.
My thoughts today are clearer than they have ever been. I have shed much of that unneeded cargo that I was carrying. I have a greater vision of the destination I wish to go. While I don’t know how to get there or what to expect next, I cannot predict the future; I have undeniable faith in the journey I have embarked on is a good one.
What I believe that I didn’t believe then is that this notion that we must sacrifice today for a better tomorrow is flawed. Why does it make sense to delay gratification in life? Why should we give up now for what is an impossible to predict, uncertain future or even a future in which we may not exist?
What gives me greater faith in the journey that I am now on is that it feels good. There is less need in life to seek out immediate pleasures sourced externally to muffle out the pains of my existence. Instead, I have done the work required to soften or remove altogether that which was causing my pains resulting in a deeper and more continual feeling of pleasure that is found internally in each of us.
To try and settle my thoughts and disease of returning to work, to life as I thought it had to be, I used many techniques that I’ve used before. For one I find comfort in reminding myself that I have been here before. I’ve had these exact or very similar feelings and moved passed them.
Waking up at 3 am in the morning, stressed, sad, displeased or any of the many other terms I can attach what is just an unpleasant or agitated feeling caused by a misalignment in life is not new to me. We can all find comfort in knowing that these feelings will pass, this moment will end, and another will begin. But what if moments repeat themselves? Shouldn’t that raise some questions?
I know that at times like these to focus on my health also has positive benefits. Not only does it distract me making time pass quicker but it also can improve my mindset. At the depths of our suffering and pain sometimes a shift in our perspectives is all it takes to make some positive improvements in our life.
A focus on health also gives my day structure and routine, and that plays a significant role in my effectiveness. Good health also increases my effectiveness in others aspects of my life.
I can honestly say that after five weeks away with no health routine has had its toll on my body. I think I must have put on about ten kilograms. You know how holidays are, all disciplines for me go out the window. Good health helps increase energy levels, improve clarity and enables me to face better the challenges as I try and get back into the thick of life.
And finally, I know I must work. I need to earn some money so I can keep up the charades of life that I’ve created for myself. To do this as harmoniously as possible I set some goals and come up with a plan of attack. That seems to give me something to aim for and helps create some meaning to an otherwise meaningless life.
Like an old man climbing into a bath I slide back into my comfortable way of life. Postive about my health. Chasing after goals and even though I know all things in life all things are impermanent, goals help the time pass quicker. And so I am left wondering, is this what life is all about?
Like the old man in the bath, we once again become comfortable with the way of our life. It ‘s hard to find the motivation to get out and do something different, to make a change. And even as the water temperature becomes so cold that it’s unbearable, we struggle to move. I feel like I am stuck and I can’t get out.
And so what do I do? I do what I’ve always done, I numb life! Hence why I find myself once again awake in bed in the middle of the night, anxious, wanting to change, wanting to cry, lying there in hope for something better to come.
I proceed through the weeks waiting for the weekend as I traverse the year in anticipation of the next holiday. It’s like everything in my life is on replay. Things just keep going round and around and around.
I sit back and reflect on of this. I look for solutions to the problems I face. I ask questions and struggle to find the answers. I know I must work, I know I can work but is work without meaning going to bring me any greater fulfillment in life? Will it lead me off this circular track? Will it take me down new paths so I can have new experiences that bring me greater joy and appreciation for life? Is this modern day life that I find myself living a fallacy? What other options do I have?
I don’t know the answers, but I am committed to figuring life out. And I think I am making progress.
Lying in bed night after night awake and worried doesn’t make sense. Living this life with displeasure, dissatisfaction, and a level of suffering cannot be the purpose or best use of the time I’ve got. Living with regret because I didn’t make the best use of my time, doing the things I love and want to do seems fruitless.
That’s not the life I want to live. I cannot understand how that is considered living. Now I embrace change. I encourage challenge. I instigate fear and move towards them. I inspire and motivate myself to be myself and following the paths that make sense to me. Not because I am all important. Not because I have discovered my mission in life or think I am someone or something more than I am. I do it because I am. Becuase I exist. And I want to make the most of this experience.