Your brain decides what actions you will take six seconds before you are aware of your decision. Scary thought. That means, your subconscious, the "facts "you decided were true in your early childhood, may be in control of many of your actions, not the mature, reasoned you of today. The subconscious runs the show and this is why, especially in the emotion laden holidays coming up, it is essential that you "reset" and direct yourself to healthy positive goals. The good news is, you can do this in your sleep!
When I was in my teens and twenties and I felt overwhelmed, under pressure or needed to produce more than I was able, I would go to sleep at every opportunity, nap, all day on week ends, during my lunch break, whenever I could and then, at a certain random point, I would be back on track.
It is the job of the subconscious to keep hidden from you that which would overwhelm you or inhibit your ability to function if it came to your awareness. However, you keep a lot hidden from your conscious mind, which could take positive action, because you are not aware that you now, unlike, say, twenty years ago or in childhood, have the tools to act on information in a way that is profitable to you. In sleep, you can communicate between the many parts of yourself and create resolutions and plot results that you would never be able to achieve in a waking state, when your senses and awareness are occupied with other concerns.
Nobody really knows why we sleep even though we spend nearly a third of our life sleeping. We do however know some very interesting facts about sleep that you can use to make your life more successful.
In sleep are you able to make the neural connections that integrate experience into memory and knowledge as well as loosen the synapses that may keep destructive, disturbing patterns and memories in place. You can practice change however it may take sleep to integrate that change All of the all-nighters most of us pulled in college didn't help us because sleep is needed to sort and integrate the information. All in all, sleep is a very powerful and useful state.
Sleep, is actually not one state but a combination of states, some of which are very active. In REM or dream sleep, your body temperature rises and your brain is very active, at times more active than when you are awake. In fact, you expend more calories in sleep than you do simply lying in bed because of this activity and the caloric demands (20 percent of our daily needs) that the brain makes on the body. When your brain is active in REM sleep your body is paralyzed, with the exception of your chest (breathing works!) and your eyes. In the deeper levels of sleep, your body can move and your brain is deeply inactive. This is where regenerative sleep is thought to occur. Odd factoid, it is in this state, and not REM, as most people assume, that sleepwalking occurs.
Your sleep can be the most creative cycle in your day and prepare you to interact with the world effectively and happily in your waking hours! Deep sleep decreases, as we age and dream sleep increases as do periods of wakefulness during the night. As older adults we can use the changes in our sleep cycles to enrich our lives. Because you have access to so many different parts of yourself during sleep, this is the place where you can formulate your answers, arrange your inner tool chest for action and digest the events of your day, and, your past, in a way that you can move forward prepared for your future.
Here are some simple techniques allow your sleep to be both restful and productive. Before you go to bed, either in your head or on paper make two lists (I suggest on paper, with room between them from morning responses). One list is of irritations such a habitual worry about your health or an argument you are having with a friend. The other list is of projects and problems you really want to resolve. What do you want to do for the next ten years that would support you or your community well? What kind of partner do you want to attract into your life. What qualities in yourself do you need to highlight to become more popular or useful in your work or social group? What physical or emotional issues do you want to resolve in as you sleep? You don't have to throw in the kitchen sink and the subconscious has its way of reminding you of anything important you forgot as you sleep.
The fact that you awaken more frequently than you did when you were younger give you a greater chance of remembering the wisdom, in picture, thought or feeling, of your last dream and as you fall back asleep to choose to have it carry you to the next issue on your list.
When you awaken, make a conscious choice about how you want to feel and how you want to experience your day. Everything may still not go your way but you rig the odds strongly in your favor. Remember that a full six seconds before you are aware of making a decision, your brain has already committed you to the action! That is why it is so important to start out and stay on a clear course from "good morning". Conflicts are best worked out in your sleep where you cannot do much damage to yourself or your relationships.
Before you go to sleep ask yourself: If you could choose with whom to spend your sleeping hours in contact with, who would that be? What projects would you put together, what conflicts would you resolve.
In How to Rule the World from your Couch I give some simple and regular ways to use this innate skill to interact with life in a more successful way (from seduction to job search). For the moment, it suffices to say that before sleep, make sure your brush and floss your brain.
Observe all of those habitual feelings and conversations that you are having with people, in your head, that really have no positive goal. Then, redirect your attention to your night's goals. You will find that you sleep better, awaken happier and that your energy goes to what is best for you, both in your sleep and when your are awake!
Laura Day is an internationally known author and consultant who has been featured in Newsweek, Oprah, CNN, ABC News and many international publications. She trains business, finance and medicine (and you) in intuitive decision making. Her latest book is HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH.
You can email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org