in Hmm Weekly
on April 20, 2021

SOMETIMES (NOT ALL THAT OFTEN, for me, personally) you can’t get to sleep at night, or someone else, such as a child in your care, can’t get to sleep (this happens more often, for me), and they need your help. As an experienced sleeper, I have developed a method to share with those who may be struggling. It goes like this:

Lie down and relax, for your own sake or to provide an example for your sleep subject. Take a breath—just a normal, slow breath, not an exaggerated or extended meditation-breath—and at the end of the exhale, say “one,” either mentally to yourself or softly to the sleepless child. Then take two more breaths and say “two.” Three more breaths, and say “three.” Four breaths, “four.” Keep going, adding another breath to the count each time. If you’re still awake at “ten,” go on to 20. If you’re still awake at “twenty,” at least you’ve been lying still and thinking very boring thoughts for 20 minutes or so, which is almost as restful as being asleep.