How to do nothing before you sleep

How to do nothing before you sleep

This is my personal favourite of all the relaxation techniques that I know of, if it can be called a technique. It is more difficult than it sounds, but I thoroughly recommend that you make an effort to get the hang of it. Once mastered, it is the most valuable relaxation tool there is. After all, this is exactly what the majority of really good sleepers do every night. It is the technique I still use to this day. It seems to be the most effective when you are feeling quite sleepy and drowsy already, and seems to prevent the ‘waking’ effects of ‘trying’ to fall asleep. At first sight, it seems like another form of meditation. But the effect is very different.

Lie down, turn out the light and do nothing.

It is important not to ‘try’ to do nothing.

Do not avoid thinking about sleep, nor try to think about sleep. Do not concentrate on ‘doing nothing’, or on anything at all. If thoughts arise, let them. Don’t engage with them, or try to stop them. In other words, just ‘do’ nothing at all. Your body may respond in all sorts of ways — including relaxing and getting drowsy, or even by tensing up, jerking or thinking, but this is fine so long as you do not ‘try’ to relax or get drowsy, that you do not ‘try’ to stop tensing up or stop thinking. If you start feeling drowsy and sleepy, don’t try to hang on to that feeling, and don’t try to keep your body in that drowsy place. Leave your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and body to their own devices. Let your body and mind do whatever it wants to and do not intervene, positively or negatively. Just allow everything. This is difficult and counter-intuitive at first because we are so used to ‘doing’ something in every moment of our waking lives. But persevere, and you will become better at it.

You will eventually become aware of how much you are still actively intervening with the thoughts and functioning of your body, and you will go deeper, allowing more and intervening even less. There is always less you can be doing, and when this ‘doing’ becomes as minimized as possible — profoundly small — I guarantee you will fall asleep. I describe this as profoundly doing nothing!

If you are one of those unfortunate people who find themselves beginning to wake up as soon as they become aware of becoming drowsy, then this will be an ideal technique for you. If it seems that it’s not working one night, know that sleep often comes suddenly when using this technique, without any conscious increase in relaxation. You may suddenly find yourself awake having been asleep for some time, without ever having noticed yourself becoming drowsier.