I’m sure everyone can remember a time in their life when they have sat awake worrying. As a freelancer, you will probably find yourself doing this a lot. I worry about whether I’ve done everything I should that day, whether I’ve responded to certain emails, and work deadlines that might be in front of me. Freelancing can certainly be a rewarding experience but along with these rewards comes the natural insomnia that can occur.
You’re probably going to think I’m completely crackers, but I’ve been combatting this insomnia pretty well for the last 5 years, due to a little mind trick I was taught. It actually allows your body and mind to shut down and allow you to sleep.
The not so crackers part is that it was actually taught to me by a friend who spent a small fortune on a psychiatrist to help her insomniac son sleep. There were various steps to the programme, one included memorising chess pieces and patterns, I never understood this and so bypassed that particular “remedy”.
The one that interested me is the one I’m about to share with you. Bear with me, it does sound insane and a bit hippy-ish but I’ve always found, it works.
You are to imagine yourself in a small circular room, high above the trees. In the middle of this circular room is a bed, whatever you imagine to be the most comfy bed in the world. You are to imagine the pillows, the duvet and the mattress, how they feel, how they are dressed and the colour of the sheets. Inside the bed is someone that you would normally draw comfort from, such as a girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband. If the person you would draw comfort from, wouldn’t necessarily share a bed with you, you are to imagine a chair in the corner of the room, with this person sitting reading a paper, and watching over you.
Around the room are 5 doors, each heavier and thicker than the last. In each door is a lock and a large key. You are to start at door number one, place your thoughts behind the door, shut it and lock the door, imagine the weight of the key and hear the “clunk” of the lock. Same method with doors, 2,3, and 4 – by the time you get to number five, you save this for ‘heavy stuff’, such as debt, health of a family member or anything else that is pretty serious and stopping you from sleeping. You repeat the method above, lock the door and walk towards your super comfy bed and get in.
Each time you want to think about any of the thoughts you locked away, you confront yourself with the image of the locked door, a door you can’t get past until morning, nothing is accessible once you have locked it away.
You’ll find you’ll get better at not accessing the thoughts and instead confronting yourself with the locked door image, it does take practise and you’ll get quicker at “locking” everything away the more you do it.
I almost go through the above process, out of habit now. The room I imagine is just as familiar to me as my actual bedroom. It helps me to compartmentalise my thoughts and tell my brain it’s “ok” to leave it until the morning. It also allows me to sleep better, quicker and be more creative the next day.
If you can get past feeling a bit daft, and the whole process being a little silly, you might just find sleep finds you a little easier.