Most of us cannot go to sleep because we cannot stop thinking. The body is tired but the brain is active. Being primarily visual creatures, darkness brings on our fears. The silence of the night compounds the problem. Our mind races from one set of thoughts to another and they keep playing out from the start to finish like a prepared script of a play. Exhausted from all the reruns we manage to finally fall asleep.
If we notice carefully, most of us will find that we have 4-5 stories that we play out in our head every night. The same stories keep running in our head. While most of them will be negative stories, some of them even may be positive stories that prevent us from getting the much needed sleep.
Story of the past: We could be rehashing an incident or a series of incidents from our past and playing out the various scenarios. We remember what we people said, what we replied and then change it to how we could have given a better reply and then build the story on that.
A Revenge Story: How we faced injustice at the hands of someone in our personal or professional life and how we set out to avenge that insult and bring the other person on their knees.
The Anxiety Story about our loved ones: How bad things can happen to our loved ones and how they suffer and how we respond to it and how catastrophic our lives become.
Relief from misery: Someone in our life is making our lives miserable. We play out the misery and see how we eventually get relief from it sometimes by the death of the other person.
Fantasy stories: How the world finally recognises our talent, honesty, achievements, our good qualities and we finally get what we deserve.
These stories play out in the same manner night after night sending our sleep into a tailspin. How do we stop this? How do we not indulge in these stories and get a good nights sleep?
One possible way is to write out the stories that run in your head currently. These stories keep changing with time and our changing circumstances. Once you write out the story fully the way it plays in your head, give a title to each of the stories. The title should capture the essence of the story. Then a few minutes before going to bed, just read out the stories to yourself. When you switch off the lights ask yourself, “Which story shall I allow to prevent me from sleeping now?”. List out the titles in your head. If a story starts out in your head, tell yourself, “The revenge” story has started, and this is how it is going to end. The story breaks off in your head because it cannot be played out consciously. Wait for another story to start. “I will catch the story when it starts and label it”. This thought if it runs in your head, with practice you will stop running stories in your head before sleeping.
Stopping those stories from running in your head is one of the methods we can adopt to get a good night’s sleep.