Like most folks in their 30s, I experience the occasional night where I lay in bed with my thoughts refusing to let me sleep for an hour or two.
My brain works on overdrive. It plays out scenarios and pounds forth idea after idea – on how to solve a crisis at work, on how I could take a personal project forward, topics for future blogposts, and late comeback lines. Despite my best efforts, it does not shut up and let me go to sleep.
I tried to address this problem in several ways. I kept a regular sleeping schedule. I opened the windows and used a thinner blanket so that the cold would lull me to sleep. I tracked my diet to notice patterns in my digestion. But despite my best efforts, a sleepless night would pop-up from nowhere.
And one day, I did something entirely different. I thanked my sleeplessness.
I realized how my sleeplessness was my mind’s red flag. It was a sign that I was leaving too many problems unresolved and brushing them under the carpet. Past a critical point, my mind would force me to reconcile with them in the middle of the night.
These sleepless episodes had their advantages. They would present to me my most pressing problems and push me to address them before they got worse. Better yet, these episodes would consistently produce some of my best ideas after my unconscious mind had a chance to grapple with them and see things clearly.
Thanking my sleeplessness was a turning point. Ever since, these episodes have become much rarer, and each time, I end up harnessing them to my advantage.
Gratitude is underrated as a cure for diseases.