Have you ever suffered sleep disturbance because of a mind heavy with thought? The thoughts may be disturbing if the underlying issue is serious. If someone is worried about a dire diagnosis, job security, money trouble, cracks in a relationship, or the perennial favourite—the meaning of life—the angst is real. The thoughts that consume us through the day don’t magically take the night off. They hop aboard a never-ending train running in a closed loop. They rob us of the gift of a restful sleep that is critical to our health and well-being. And somehow, those staring-at-the- ceiling-in-the-middle-of-the-night thoughts are darker and scarier and more debilitating than they could ever be during the glare of day. All the distractions and noise disappear leaving the Big Thing front and centre in the void.
Sometimes the thoughts are anticipatory in nature. How will I handle XYZ? Will the new job work out? Is this guy right for me? How will I get through tomorrow’s mind-numbing, go-nowhere meeting with the office nincompoops? Other times they are a replaying of the coulda, woulda, shoulda’s of the day. Or one’s entire life. Why did I marry her? I should have told the boss to shove it. Why didn’t I explain my bright idea better so they all got it? Why didn’t I study medicine in 1980, I’d be rich and retired by now?
The problem with both these approaches is that they are embedded in either the past or the future. And we (should) know we have no control over either realm. Yet, it’s a trap we’ve all stumbled into.
As counter-intuitive as it seems, good and exciting news is equally disturbing to our sleep. Which bride hasn’t lain awake planning every tiny nuptial detail? Which new lottery millionaire hasn’t pondered the world of options newly open to them? Which set of parents or grandparents hasn’t imagined the blessed new arrival? Which new hire hasn’t played the climbing the corporate ladder dream sequence?
Right now I’m losing sleep over two things. They are each a combination of good news with a touch of risk/challenge. About a month ago I was approached to give an hour-long presentation at a tourism conference in February. It’s a wonderful opportunity to tell our story and promote the festival I coordinate. I’ve got insights to share and advice to offer. Inherent in this great opportunity is also the chance to freeze, screw up, make a fool of myself. See the dilemma? So when I should be sleeping I’m rehearsing my opening or pondering different approaches to the subject matter.
The other big thing is the very real possibility we will undertake a major addition to our small bungalow. And while we’ve met with a draftsperson, general contractor and a lender for the nuts and bolts issues, I keep thinking about my office layout, colour swatches, furniture placement, the dream of a walk-in closet and an ensuite. I just need to find a way to confine my two big things to my waking hours when I can actually create a PowerPoint or compare colour swatches, rehearse my delivery, or do a scale drawing. Here’s to sweet precious sleep, from where I sit.