• This is the second part of the 2-part article, Sleep - Top Tips and Advice (previously Sleep Tips and Advice: Good Sleep Reduces Crime, Sleep Deprivation Compromises Public Safety).

• The article begins with Part 1 and continues below with this, the concluding Part 2 (References are at the conclusion of this part).

• In Sleep and The Law: Strange Bedfellows, the author addressed the issue of relationship between law and sleep. Good sleep makes patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals. Patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals are less likely to commit crimes or be negligent in their actions and cause damage to others or their property. Patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals are far less likely to see the inside of a courtroom as the sleep-deprived.

Sleep is one of the greatest, universal gifts. But it is more than a gift: it is a God-sent pleasure and should be taken that way. The character Cervantés reflects as much in Don Quixote when he says:

"Blest be the man who first invented sleep - a cloak to cover all human imaginings, food to datisfy humger, water to quench thirst, fire to warm cold air, cold to temper heat and, lastly, a coin to but whatever we need."

sleepless womanMany people resent sleep or do not cherish it. They get worked up because of the work they have to do and consider sleep to be nothing more than a bodily function, almost a necessary evil.

This is a frame of mind which is not conducive to sleep. Sleep and the peacefulness it invites is a soft, awe-inspiring pleasure. Once this is understood and embraced, is but a small step for individual to also embrace that brief period of darkness and stillness that precedes sleep.

The heart pumps blood 24 hours a day and it is only during sleep that it can rest; not completely but partially. This partial sleep is crucial to cardiac health.

Sleep deprivation can be a vicious cycle. Individuals become aware of the shortcomings of sleep deprivation upon themselves and as they yearn for a proper night of sleep, this increases their stress at bedtime. Just how much sleep you need depends on ... well, you!

"The amount of sleep we need varies with age. Newborn infants need about 16 hours of sleep per day, young children (5-9 years) about 10 hours, adolescents about 9 hours, young adults 8 hours and elderly about 7 hours a day. However, the need for sleep is not the same for all people of the same age. Some people may need 10 hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed and alert the next day, others may need just 5 hours a night."2

One concept that has been beneficial is the suggestion that every hour just lying in bed still and in darkness, albeit not sleeping, gives the body as much rest as a proper 30 minutes of sleep. This concept is important especially when you are still tossing and turning at two o'clock in the morning - now even more concerned about the events of tomorrow because you would be facing those events sleep deprived.

But as long as you have been resting in darkness and peace, you may be able to take enough benefit even from your sleeplessness, to give you the energy to get you through the next day.

Some theorize that the best solution to insomnia (generally, a condition in which going to sleep takes more than 30 minutes) is to reboot your circadian rhythm by surrendering and getting up in the middle of insomnia, and of the night. If, when you fall asleep exhausted, get up at your regular time (don't sleep in). This will make the next day a write-off but use the sleepiness to get back to your regular bed-time the next night.

Travelers use this tool. For example, flying overnight from North America to Europe, the traveler stays up the entire first day in Europe so that they can fall asleep on their first evening in Europe on European time, even though it would only be 4 PM North American time.

sleeping lawyersMany people spend their every waking minute distracted and give themselves little time to process recent events in their life. These are people who for example, always have reading material in the washroom, walk around with music or audio books playing, constantly have a radio on in the background.

Simply put, they never spend time processing their own life. So when they go to bed and turn the light off and close their eyes, the mind is starved for this form of intellectual intimacy and immediately, the floodgates of daily events the losers the mind fighting one another to be resolved then and there.

At the risk of sounding like Dale Carnegie, everyone should spend some time by themselves during the day, and not otherwise distracted, so that when bedtime comes around, there is not a flock of petitioners banging on the door wanting to come in to be heard by the King.

The goal of any person wishing to improve their ability to follow sleep must be to still the mind and the body. For centuries, experts have been advising their patients to consciously relax all of the body, usually suggesting a sequence from bottom to top, relaxing each muscle intentionally, one by one, and not moving on to the next until each particular muscle feels fully relaxed.

Often, this very exercise is enough to occupy and to still the mind, during which sleep arrives like a robber, completely unnoticed.

It is not as easy to relax the mind when the mind is wound up. One technique which was shared with us when we were children, was to count sheep; the exercise so innocuous and void of any unpleasant or stressful emotion as to invite sleep by sheer (no pun intended) boredom.

But another, similar yet more potent technique is to actively chase any thoughts from your mind. Pretend your mind is a small yet cavernous, black enclosing. The job is to attend upon, to rush to every point where a thought is breaking in from outside and which starts to murmur or whisper for your attention. The thoughts will be relentless and so too must be the exercise of extinguishing the external thoughts, one by one. The ultimate goal, if sleep has not occurred during the exercise itself, which usually does, is to extinguish the actual thought of the process itself and to thus put out the last light and enjoy the cave of darkness.

If this process takes a while, do not worry. It will never be as hard as it is the first time. You will get better at it. Anyway, actively learn to enjoy the rest and the darkness.

Three more home-made recipes (patent pending - wink):

  • Find you can't avoid thinking of some stressful situation? Run your hand down your face gently form the forehead to the neck ... slowly. That ought to bring you right back to where you are.
  • Smile. Yes, sometimes just a simple smile can whoosh away the racing, obsessive thoughts.
  • Here's another home-made alternative. It's also a game. Lying perfectly still with your eyes closed and in a sleep position, focus your mind on sounds only. Block out all other feelings or thoughts. Just focus on any sounds that may be "out there". Strain yourself to listen and one by one, identify each and every sound. Keep trying to be so still with your others senses that more and more far-off sounds come to you. If a car drives by, follow it. Listen to it. Try to distinguish features of it just by using your hearing, as a blind person would. Pick up on each sound and catalogue each. Dissect the symphony of sounds. Enjoy the process, a pleasant, relaxing game. Usually, the sleep train picks you up after a few moments of this technique.

In most cases, sexual intimacy is very conducive to sleep but not so, sexual thoughts. Sexual thoughts arouse the body to the highest level making it practically impossible for the sleep train to stop and pick up the passenger. However, this may be different for every person. For some, thoughts of sexual intimacy may have a calming effect and be conducive to sleep.

Good Night.

These are just some ideas for sleep. Every person will bring different variables to the table, such as stressful or night owl employment, or health issues, which make "a normal night's sleep" just more wishful thinking - such as a breathing disorder, or transient but very real and overwhelming grief.

But it is a battle you have to win because:

"... the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed."

If you have a real, tough sleep issue, consult with a specialist "sleep doctor" or, at the very least, a local sleep therapist (such as Edward MacDonald of Victoria, British Columbia).

For sleep apnea, you may also be well-served by a respiratory therapist. It may also save your life, if not your mariage.

• This is the end of the 2-part article Sleep - Top Tips and Advice (previously Sleep Tips and Advice: Good Sleep Reduces Crime, Sleep Deprivation Compromises Safety).

• The full article begins with Part 1.

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