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Perkins: Fall 2013

Ernie Perkins, Th. D., Ed. D., D. Min., Ph. D.,
CT/RT (William Glasser Institute Faculty Member), REBT (Primary Certification)
The author shares his personal method for overcoming a problem common to many. That problem is the loss of the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Using the principles he learned from CT/RT, he was able to overcome insomnia.
“Sleep where art thou? Surely, you avoid me for a reason unknown to me. If sleep you will not share my bed, then send death to be my mistress. THIS STAYING AWAKE CRAP HAS GOT TO STOP.”1
It can do something to one’s ego to realize that his/her “original” idea is not so original after all. The Wikipedia Dictionary’s article on insomnia has a section on the benefits of Cognitive Behavior Therapy toward helping those with insomnia problems. It lists several studies justifying the conclusion that CBT can be more beneficial than many drug treatments currently available. Thus, it is with a bruised ego that I share my own method for curing myself of insomnia and its effects on me.
The more I studied William Glasser’s “How the mind works,” the more I realized that he has given us a tremendous tool by which we can rule much of the things that try to rule us. From his chart I found evidence to support my personal motto of many years, “As I do, so will I be,” believing that if I wished to be a certain way, I needed to start acting accordingly. Glasser’s chart shows how one’s actions and thinking can have predominance over one’s emotion and over one’s physicalogy. If I want to have a certain physical result, I need to activate my thinking and actions toward that result.
Placing this concept into action, I started to change my sleep, or lack of it, habits with what I call my “sleep mode” concept. When I first started with this concept, I would tell myself that I was placing my body (actions) and mind (thinking) in the “sleep mode,” but then, I realized I did not want to do that. Alzheimer’s had ravished my mother’s side of the family; and I had developed the theory a long time before it had come acceptable that “use it or lose it” was a strategy for fighting Alzheimer’s. Thus, for many years I kept myself in a situation where I was forced to use it, earning a bachelor, three master degrees, and four doctorates for a total of almost five hundred seminar hours with over three hundred and fifty of them being post-graduate hours. There was no way in which I was going to squander all of that by giving my mind the permission to shut down.
I reasoned that the mind could keep working even when the body was asleep. What are dreams, except the mind working while the body sleeps? If my mind can work while my body sleeps, I decided I would give it permission to remain active even though my body was going to be placed in the sleep mode. Therefore, I do not try to “turn off” my mind. I have chosen to let it go, and I have found that I am working through many situations after lying down, that I would not have worked on had I not given my mind permission to keep working. Interesting also is this little tidbit, after falling to sleep, I find that I am doing more dreaming than I have ever done at any other point in my life. If “use it, or lose it” works, then my mind is being used far more than at earlier times, and it should stay around for the rest of my life.
This leads to my explanation of the “sleep mode.” Most of insomnia’s physical characteristics for me at least are as follows:
First, I find that I simply cannot get comfortable. Within a few moments, I will feel pressure points where my body is lying on the mattress. I turn myself to another position only to find the same thing is happening in my new position. So, I exercise the most basic of my insomnia’s characteristic . . . tossing and turning.
Second, I discover that I have caught the “seven year itch.” Places I had not even known that I had would begin to itch . . . my personal favorite is just below my nose. It never itches during the day, but it takes the role of being the drum major for the whole band of itches that characterize insomnia.
Third, and last, are the little aches and pains that I had not been aware before going to bed. Now, they work to create my newly found role of being the latter-day biblical character, Job.
These are my personal three major players that work to keep sleep out of my bedroom. So, how do I handle them with CR/RT?
In the seventy-four years of my life, I have had three operations and one broken leg for which I had been put asleep . . . not dead . . . just asleep. In each of these cases, I was cut on, had parts taken out, and a rod jammed through my leg bone. Yet, I slept on with absolutely no consciousness of pain or discomfort. When I place myself in the sleep mode, I let my actions and my thinking take control over my physicalogy. I tell myself that I am feeling no pain or discomfort. I ignore the big three that I have described previously. I ignore the pressure points; I ignore the itches; I ignore the little aches and pains; I force myself to lie still because I am in the sleep mode. My mind is working; but my body is shutting down in the sleep mode.
I tell myself that there is nothing my body receives when I am asleep that it is not getting now, therefore, though I may not get sleep, I will get rest (this may not be medically true, I have not checked it out; if the reader knows better, please don’t confuse me with facts). I do not try to force myself to go to sleep; I am asleep physically and by lying very still, I rest.
I do not know if I am practicing a form of self-hypnosis or meditation, but I do know that after only a very reasonable period, I have actually fallen sound asleep, and insomnia forme has been a visitor of my past years; a visitor who has not visited me for a long time. I have not missed it.
1Ben Gill (life-long friend), Facebook comment, Nov. 24, 2012.