Have you ever wondered how to stay awake when you’re driving long distances, or you need to sit through a long lecture or presentation and absorb a great deal of information – but all you want to do is put your head the desk and take a nap? You know how it feels – one minute you’re wide awake and alert, and the next thing you know, you’re doing everything you can to keep your eyes open.
There is a method to staying awake anytime you need to, and it works! But first, it’s important to know the phases of sleep, why it’s sometimes easy to wake up in the morning and sometimes it feels impossible, and why certain activities actually put you to sleep no matter how awake and alert you felt when you started.
The Phases of Sleep
There are approximately four sleep phases during the night. Each one lasts about 90 minutes and takes you through the alpha, theta and delta brainwave patterns. Alpha is light sleep with active dreaming, Theta is deeper sleep, and Delta is very deep sleep. When you first go to bed at night, you spend much of the first sleep cycle in Delta (dreamless, heavy sleep). The remaining phases become progressively lighter and there is more brain activity (rapid eye movement, or REM sleep usually occurs near the end of each cycle, and is more prevalent as the night progresses). Each part of the sleep phase has distinct physiological functions. If we are awakened during the middle of a cycle, the cycle is interrupted and we experience a strong desire to go back to sleep. This is why, when we awaken in the morning, we feel refreshed and ready to wake up only if we’re finished with the current cycle!
The Silva Method teaches a wonderful technique called The Clock Exercise to wake up without alarms, and it’s a wonderful technique worth learning. It’s phase one of developing full control over your daily energy levels!
Watch the video of Laura Silva explaining how Awake control works
Learn how to keep yourself centered to control your mind
Staying Awake When You Are Sleepy
But why is it so hard sometimes to stay awake during the day? Why do we fall asleep during lectures and meetings? Why is it so hard to stay alert on long road trips? Developing the ability to keep yourself awake is very valuable; and you should know that it’s not “you” – it’s a normal and expected response to lack of stimulation. Falling asleep when we need to be awake isn’t because we’re necessarily bored; the subject matter may be fascinating, but it’s the presentation, and the environment, that triggers the urge to sleep. It’s the monotony that does us in!
The brain’s Reticular Activating System is the part of the brain that controls alertness and attention. When stimuli are few, the RAS signals the body to shut down; so a boring lecture, the monotony of highway driving, or any “mindless” repetitive tasks actually cause a physiological response of a strong desire to sleep. Isn’t it nice to know that you’re not alone and this is perfectly normal? Now you are aware of the power of the RAS to put you to sleep when there is a lack of stimulation. Of course every minute of the day can’t be filled with things that are stimulating, and you will experience the inevitable “down times” when the urge to sleep is irresistible. So how do you override the RAS?
How to Stay Awake When You Need To
The Silva Method teaches the Awake Control Exercise to remain awake longer – anytime! You can use the exercise when you become drowsy when driving or find yourself lulled to sleep by a repetitious task or when you need to be up late or even all night to study or finish an important project. Or, when the drone of a professor’s or presenter’s voice makes even fascinating subjects fade into the background as your eyelids start to droop. Just like the Clock Exercise, Awake Control is a form of mental training and another step toward mastery of the mind. Awake Control re-energizes you quickly and effectively for several hours.
Awake Control is achieved by entering the Alpha brainwave state and using the five steps technique. The first step is acknowledging the situation by telling yourself, “I am drowsy and sleepy.” You then set a goal, “I don’t want to be drowsy and sleepy; I want to be wide awake feeling fine and in perfect health.” You then program yourself by commanding yourself to become fully awake and alert as you count slowly from one to five – this is how you intend to solve the goal. Then, you take the action necessary to achieve the goal by slowly counting from one to five. At the conclusion of the countdown, you reinforce the command by saying, “I am wide awake, feeling fine and perfectly healthy, feeling better than before.” The last step in the five steps technique is to claim your reward – in this case, a state of alertness! You can also incorporate imagery to reinforce the command (by picturing yourself wide awake, alert and ready for action in any setting you’re having difficulty staying awake). This exercise teaches you to very effectively program your mind to work for you in achieving all of your goals!
Between the Clock Exercise, the Awake Control Exercise and the sleep-inducing Sleep Control Exercise, you have the tools to manage your sleep/wake rhythms for optimal energy, relaxation, attention, alertness and even healing, since the body does most of its repair/regeneration work during sleep. Give yourself the gift of a new superpower: the ability to sleep when you need to, and to stay awake when you need to. Imagine the possibilities – high energy when you want it, and peaceful sleep to recharge your batteries! You can start improving your sleep habits by entering the Alpha state of mind quicker by centering yourself using the Silva centering exercise. Sign up by clicking on the image below for free Silva lessons and we’ll throw in a free centering exercise download!