"To sleep with a peaceful mind is to live a peaceful life."
Sleep is the opportunity for our mind and body to heal from the stress we have accumulated throughout the day.
In this article, we will look at the ways to improve the quality of sleep.
We will also explore the causes for a poor sleeping pattern.
Sleep In Depth
How much should we sleep?
Most "experts" would prescribe 7-8 hours of sleep a day as the recommended length for sleep.
On average, this may be correct. But everyone's different. Some may require less; some more.
Some may require more than 8 hours of sleep because they have been cramming for exams and only sleeping 4 hours a day.
Some may require only 3 hours of sleep because they have been living like a monk, meditating and living a peaceful life throughout the day.
Thus, to truly ascertain how long one should sleep will require one's own self-assessment. To develop such Self-Knowing will require one to maintain awareness of one's energy levels throughout the day, to understand and connect with their body so that they can know how much rest it needs.
As one maintains such awareness, Self-Knowing will develop. One will gradually realize the days when their energy is low, and the days when it is high and develop the Knowing of the cause for these energy differences.
One will also begin to know that sleeping too much or sleeping too little can bring down one's energy levels, and also, how eating different foods and doing different things can affect one's energy levels.
So, to know how much sleep one needs requires a journey of Self-Knowing, a journey of where one can reconnect with their body.
When we live a mentally active life, a life full of worries, problems to solve, fears, and so forth, we can become so focused on the tasks we need to do in life, forgetting to pause and listen to what our body wants.
The body can communicate many different kinds of messages: asking for water, food, telling us that we have been sitting for too long, telling us that we've just eaten something bad, telling us that we need more rest, and so forth.
So, how much sleep do you need?
It's for you to find out!
And it may change every day because it really depends on how much you stress the body and mind on a given day.
But let us look at the ways we can improve the quality of sleep in general.
And what defines a good quality sleep?
The quality of your sleep can be measured by how many times you wake up throughout the night.
More precisely, it can be measured by how Still your mind is throughout your sleep.
Note: A good quality sleep of short duration will always be better than a long sleep of bad quality.
So, how to improve the quality of sleep?
We learn to develop a Still mind!
How Still our mind is at the end of the day will always come back to how Still the mind has been throughout the day. It's important to be aware of this fact so that one can see the need to develop a Still mind throughout the day if one wishes to improve their sleeping patterns.
So realize, if one lives in a lifestyle full of pressure, then one will go to bed with a pressured mind.
If one has been angry the whole day, then one will sleep with an angry mind.
And likewise, when we are filling our minds with stimulating things to do throughout the day, it will take a while for the mind to wind down at night. That is why those with hyperactive minds can often find it difficult to fall asleep at night.
So to sleep with a peaceful mind is to live a peaceful life!
Importance Of Addressing Sleep
It's important to address our poor sleeping patterns because it can affect our ability to focus throughout the day, not to mention our energy levels.
When we lack sleep, it can affect our mood, making us more prone to the states of anger and depression.
Do you often get angry at the smallest things?
Sleep is also the opportunity for the mind to “unwind” and subconsciously process / let go / all the stress and frustrations that we have accumulated throughout the day. Thus it is an important time, a time for one to reset themselves so that they can wake up refreshed.
When was the last time you had a good night sleep?
At a deeper level, Sleep is also an opportunity for the Deeper Self to communicate with the Surface Self. From a spiritual perspective, it is a holy time where one subconsciously communes with one's soul, one's spirit guides.
When one carries chaotic surface thoughts into their sleep, one will become less aware of the deeper messages from within. Often, the Deeper Self communicates to us through metaphors in dreams.
Path Of Creator
The journey begins with becoming aware of how our sleeping patterns are affecting us mentally, emotionally, physically—how it is impacting our lives—so that one can naturally develop the intention to improve it.
The journey is about developing Self-Knowing, knowledge from one's own experiences rather than simply following what other people are doing.
To improve one's quality of sleep, one will have to improve the quality of their mind throughout the day.
So, developing Self-Knowing will be necessary for one to progress on the journey of improving their sleeping patterns.
One will have to develop the Knowing of how they are using their minds, how they are stressing their minds. It's important to identify the causes of one's physical, emotional, and mental stress because accumulating stress is what will create an Unstill Mind.
So let us look at what can cause the stress of the mind so that one can develop the awareness to address them.
The State Of Suffering Is The Cause Of Stress
The Mind will always be stressed by the Suffering States of mind.
What are the Suffering States of Mind?
These are the negative states of mind—which causes the state of unhappiness.
We can experience suffering when someone at work said something to make us angry.
We can experience suffering when we encounter some sort of fear throughout the day.
We are suffering whenever we experience impatience, frustration, judgement and so forth.
All negatives of the mind will create stress on the body and mind, affecting the quality of our sleep if they are not released before the end of the day.
Realize that although the moments of a suffering experience in life can seem short, for instance, an argument that lasts only a few minutes, all suffering states of mind will always remain within even after the life experience itself.
That is why when we encounter an annoying problem that we can’t solve in life, the mind will keep dwelling on the problem until it meets some sort of resolution.
So, by working on one's suffering states of the mind, one will naturally be improving one's quality of sleep.
The less fears, worries, anger one has, the easier it will be to sleep at night!
Realize that when one is able to keep their mind absolutely Still throughout the day, then 1-2 hours of sleep can be enough unless one is doing physical work as the body will need more time to recover.
In this day of age where the mind is kept busy all the time, it can be difficult for one to develop maintain absolute Stillness of the mind.
But naturally as one works on their suffering states of mind, one will naturally reach this state.
A tip to help you Still your mind is to do less throughout the day. This will help the mind to unwind and process one's daily life experiences, helping you to sleep better at night.
Practices such as meditation can greatly accelerate the process. Usually, the quality of one's sleep can be improved just by meditating for 30 minutes a day in the morning.
The types of meditation that is helpful are the practices that focus on the observation of the breath.
These types of meditation practices can be found on the courses page.
Waking Up Earlier actually Gives You More Energy
Try waking up earlier in the morning, for instance, between 3am to 5am to experience how much clearer the mind is when one wakes early in the morning, provided that one has adequately slept.
At first, it will feel difficult to wake up during these times because of our habitual patterns of waking up late, but once you are used to it, you will realize just how much more productive you can be by waking up early in the morning.
Also, sleeping before 9pm can also help one to fall asleep. The mind usually becomes more creative after 9pm, so the later one goes to bed, the more difficult it will be for one to fall asleep.
Develop Experienced Knowledge
Begin maintaining awareness of your energy levels throughout the day to develop Self-Knowing.
The Creator's Meditation / VipassanaLink here
When you experience a pleasant sensation in your meditation, instead of craving it, simply observe it as is with the intention to let it go with a Still Mind.
Doing this will help you to develop the mental power to wake up without feeling tired.
Usually, when we wake up, we can cling to the pleasant sensations of drowsiness, which can make us even more tired and unable to get out of bed!