Can’t Fall Asleep for a nap? Try This.

Ah, gotta love those moments when you suddenly realize that you have a second to write something you’ve been meaning to write, and moreover, you remember what the something was!

Magic, I tell you.

Anyway, here’s today’s, while I have it:  Sometimes, whether during adaptation or just due to Situational Crap, you may find that you have time to lay down, but are not able to fall asleep.  Maybe your brain’s going eight hundred miles an hour, or you have a headache or some other distracting physical condition, or for whatever reason sleep just won’t come.  In this situation, it’s miles better to lay and relax for your 20 minutes than to get up — staying horizontal keeps you on-schedule, and you’ll get a little rest, if not as much as you would have if you’d slept.  By doing this meditation, though, I’ve found that I can get nearly all the benefit of a full nap, even if I can’t fall asleep.

I’m not making any claims about this technique being able to "replace sleep" in the grand sense, okay?  Just that it seems to work very well for countering the effects of nap-insomnia.  Plus, I have it on authority that there are good mental and physical (especially immune-system-related) benefits to doing this regularly anyway (which is, in fact, why I first tried it when I couldn’t sleep one day).  So, if you’re going to lay around for twenty minutes anyway, might as well use the time well, right?  Right.

Here it is.  The instructions look long because I’m trying to be clear about exactly how this works, but the whole exercise need only take a couple minutes.  It may put you to sleep (it does me, about half the time), and it may not, in which case you should get up relaxed and refreshed when your timer goes off.

1.  Lay on your back, if possible, and relax your body completely.  Close your eyes.

2.  Focus on your hands or feet (pick one).  Try to feel them as alive, not just as objects.  They have energy running through them — the electricity that constantly flies around every part of your body, via your nervous system* — see if you can sense it.  (Chances are very good that you will be able to, because, well, it’s there — if you can’t sense it though, move on through the exercise and just keep trying; you’ll get it.)

3.  Pay as much attention to that feeling of internal energy as much as you can.  You’ll notice that it gets stronger the more you focus on it; get it going as strongly as you can.

4.  Now, move your attention up your arms (or ankles).  Feel the sensation of inner energy — like the thrum of a running computer (which, ironically I guess, is also powered by circulating energy around inside it) — moving with your focus.  It may be less clear as it moves; don’t worry about that.

5.  Slowly move your attention all the way up to the top of your head, feeling that "running on power" sensation all the way.  Then, as soon as you get the head going good, push your attention down your neck, into your chest, stomach, abdomen, hips, thighs, legs, and all the way down to your feet.  Pause at your feet a minute and get the feeling back good and strong.

6.  Now, several times, run your attention up to your head and down to your feet — take it slow, and try to keep your focus sharp and keep feeling that sensation.  (You will probably notice that the sensation of internal energy "sloshes" a bit, lagging somewhat behind the focus of your attention — this is normal.  It is also, in fact, the source of the Chinese maxim, "Chi follows Yi", which literally means "internal energy follows your attention/imagination".)  If you start to lose the feeling, you’re probably tensing up (which is a natural thing to do when dealing with an unfamiliar mental challenge, so don’t worry; just relax when you remember to and keep going).

7.  When you’ve done that a few times, stop and let things "settle".  Now try to feel the energy in your whole body, all at once.  See if you can sense it as an unbroken field, rather than just in sections or threads.  Relax and focus and see how thrummy and glow-y you can make yourself feel…and just hold it.  Laying there in that state (brain-wave state or physical state or whatever it is) feels rather like laying in a tanning booth, or in the sun; it’s warm and both energizing and relaxing.  If your mind starts to wander, don’t worry, just pull it back when you realize what it’s doing and go back to feeling that internal energy.  Keep it up until your alarm says to stop!


And of course, a neat side-effect, besides making the most out of your insomninaps and being as rested as you reasonably can…you’ll be learning how to feel Chi!  Practice that for a decade or two and you’ll be all kinds of badass.  ;)


Enjoy your Monday, everyone…


*and possibly more subtle things, but that’s not my "field".  (GET IT?!  ;)

About puredoxyk

Word addict, kungfu/taiji nut, and life-partner to polyphasic sleep. Rabid fan of as many hobbies as the world will let me pry into its piddly fourth dimension (it helps to have knocked out the wall).
This entry was posted in better thinking, kungfu yay, polyphasic sleep. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Can’t Fall Asleep for a nap? Try This.

  1. Hmm… really interesting article again, and you’re gaining another skill: If you practice public speaking and are as white-skinned as I am you will often turn red… but, well, one of the ways to solve that problem is to imagine your “legs getting warm and heavy” – your mind controls your body, so it works. The same is also a technique for hypnosis, which is why most inductions there start with feeling your body getting more heavy and eventually your head lighter and more relaxed!

    The later part of your meditation reminds me of Vipassana: When you gained your focus through Anapana (focussing on the sensations below your nostrils) you start moving your focus from head to feet. But I guess the Goenka tradition where I learned it wouldn’t approve of yours as your trying to feel something… this way you don’t eliminate old Karmas! :D So, well, you will still be reborn… sorry :(

    • puredoxyk says:

      Konstantin (I LOVE your name!), the Shaolin take on stuff like karmas and rebirth is really interesting, and I’m still just scratching the surface after three years of study. So far, though, they’re very big on learning to feel what’s going on in your body, as it’s key to manipulating Qi. (Rather fifth-grade pun there was totally unintentional. ;) They don’t seem to be worried that this will impede your spiritual path at all, but while the Chan Buddhists usually agree with the Yogis, it’s certainly not 1:1 and there may be a difference there. Bears further exploration, for sure! And thank you for reminding me that I need to write my post on Crane Breathing.

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  4. puredoxyk says:

    Really? Weird! But hey, we’re nothing if not individuals here. ;)

    You’re very welcome! Thanks for buying a copy!!

  5. I’ve done meditation in place of sleep but it seems to end up making oversleeping instead. Despite this, this sleepy meditation feels like sleep without loosing consciousness. PS*thank you for your book, its been very helpful*

  6. puredoxyk says:

    Here’s what it says there: “Learning deep relaxation techniques, in combination with receiving feedback from machines measuring small changes in temperature, can advance this process and allow the blood vessels to dilate (open up)…”

    This, I believe. Getting feedback through a machine helps you produce the right brain-waves to have a specific effect — it’s basically a high-tech version of the Buddhist technique for slowing your heartbeat, or changing the body’s temperature. It’s not quite the same as simply focusing attention, though.

    (I’m actually hankering HARD for one of the new biofeedback setups, that work with a home computer…*drool*jedimindpowers*drool*!)

  7. Sabbath says:

    No-no, look here at thermal biofeedback:

  8. puredoxyk says:

    S- I think it’s a bit much to grant that *blood flow* follows imagination, don’t you?

    K- I’ll confess I’ve never heard of that, but it wouldn’t surprise me, based on what it sounds like. I consider stress-reduction to be one of several effects this exercise has (on me, anyway), but it’s certainly there.

    Thanks! Hi!

    PD(is running)

  9. Kristine says:

    Reminds me of the body-scan technique of the mindfulness-based-stress-reduction training.

  10. Sabbath says:

    There are meditation techniques for migraine sufferers where they imagine their hands and feet are warm, which makes more blood flow in the extremities—and less to the head. I imagine what you are doing is simply relaxing, letting the blood flow out from your core, which then drops your core temperature and puts you to sleep. Same thing as when you wrap yourself with a blanket, you feel warm, but your core temperature drops because your body heat is being drawn out.

    Maybe it is the drop of core temperature alone that resets the homeostasis out of a low/drowsy state into a high/active one? Sleep in this case would be coincidental, and not actually the cause of “reseting” the homeostasis?


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