I’m Processing

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep because thoughts are whirling around in your head? Happens to me a lot. Maybe more so lately as my company, the Munn Avenue Press, is going through a growth spurt. And I’m thinking about tomorrow’s long to-do list. Ever happen to you?

Now I wouldn’t say I’m an insomniac. I sleep pretty well most of the time, but many nights the hurricane in my brain won’t settle down. So, what would you do about it?

Sleeping Baby Charles Levin Author

I have read many of the sleep tips that pervade my Google News feed: no alcohol or sweets near bedtime; get exercise (I swim every day); no screen time two hours before bed—ain’t gonna happen. And counting sheep never worked for me. What I have found that works for me is repeating certain words. I avoided the use of the word mantra there so you wouldn’t think I was preaching meditation. Although I will tell you my college roommate at the University of Rochester, Kenny, paid his $35 and got his personal mantra in the days when Transcendental Meditation was a craze and $35 was a lot of money. Kenny’s mantra was Ah-ing which he wasn’t supposed to share with anyone else. But hey, I was his roommate and I was broke.

So even back them, decades ago, Ah-ing worked for me. I’d repeat it to myself as I tried to clear my head of the term papers due the next day or the final exams I had yet to study for. And it worked—for a while. Seems mantras have a limited shelf life. But then you go find another one.

So Now What?

For most of the last decade, through turbulent financial and health issues that kept me awake, Let it go, Let it go, Let it go, repeated over and over again, relaxed my muscles, my fists unclenched, my breathing became deeper and more even. I slept. Still, that one wore out too. Like your favorite T-shirt, it had holes in it, and I just couldn’t wear it anymore.

So now what? I analyzed what my brain does at night right before I fall asleep. I don’t know about you, but being mildly OCD, my brain tries to put all the clutter in order and solve problems. What’s the likelihood I’d succeed at organizing my life in the minutes before I fall asleep? Zero.

So, if I let it, my brain will keep scheduling tasks and work on problems for hours. Hence, my new mantra, I’m Processing.

Remember your high school biology class where they taught you that your brain was like a computer? I guess, being a geek, I take that literally or I spend too much time in front of my computer. Now, before falling asleep, I picture that little hypnotic circle turning while the computer tries to catch up with my queries. I repeat, I’m Processing and it allows my mind to accept there will not be any quick answers to my challenges right now. I’m Processing and it may take until morning to work this out. I’m Processing and my fists unclench. I’m Processing and my shoulders relax. I’m Processing and take long deep breaths. I’m P-r-o-c-e-s-s-………………….. and I sleep.


If you have any great tricks for falling asleep, please share them in the COMMENTS below. I’m sure most of us could use your help.

And read for FREE some of Charles Levin’s short stories:

Books Unread
Nora Delivers the Package
The Permission Slip
10 Life Lessons I Learned from Playing Poker
Missing the Ghost in the Palace Theater
Moon Landing Memories
Zombie Phone
Word Drunk

P.S. My original fast-paced thriller NOT SO DEAD and the Sam Sunborn Series are also available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com
If you like short reads you can really finish, grab a copy of my short story collections: The Last Appointment: 30 Collected Short Stories

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  1. Yvonne Roberts on September 7, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    I used to focus on slow steady breathing while saying innnnnnnnn, outttttttt with each breath. Like you, no screen time before bed was the hardest thing for me [not] to do, but it does make a HUGE difference. I rarely ever have a hard time getting to sleep now. I also used to stretch or tense/release my entire body, one part at a time, starting with my feet/toes and working my way up. I lie on my back and try to touch the mattress with my toes for the first stretch, holding it as long as it’s comfortable, then I reverse the stretch and try to touch my toes to my shins, again as long as it’s comfortable. I’ve never made it past my gluts…so it must work! It’s very relaxing 😌 Best wishes, and sweet dreams 😴 ✨️ Von

    • Charles Levin on October 5, 2022 at 10:20 am

      Thanks so much for sharing. So I’m not alone. FYI.. Yvonne was my mother’s name. It’s a beautiful name that you don’t hear often these days. You might find it fun to know that her nickname was “Yitzi.”

      • Von🦋 on October 10, 2022 at 10:07 am

        Happy to share😊 You’re definitely not alone! Thank you♡ Curious how she acquired the nickname of “Yitzi”…

        • Charles Levin on October 12, 2022 at 5:40 pm

          I think it is a Yiddish nickname that seemed to fit her. She was a whirlwind:)

  2. Carol on September 7, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    As a child, my Mum and I always said our prayers together after she tucked me into bed. Now, when I am ready to sleep, I close my eyes and say my prayers. I am sorry to admit that I fall asleep almost straight away. I would like to think that the plus side is that should I die at night, my last thoughts are with the Big Guy upstairs and surely that should earn me some points. The downside is that I actually fell asleep while I was holding a conversation with Him – that cannot be good!

    The other trick that works with me is imagining that my body is relaxing. I start with my toes and work upwards, thinking that the part of the body is sooo relaxed, I cannot move it if I wanted to – it’s already asleep. By the time I have worked up to my head, my eyes are too tired to open, my brain is too tired to stay awake and I am well off to dreamland. Worked well with the kids as well when they were little and at home!

    • Charles Levin on October 5, 2022 at 10:23 am

      Great tip. Thanks for sharing. My variation on that is first to tense my toes, then relax them. Tense my legs, then relax them. By tensing first, it seems to amplify the relaxing.

  3. Nora Cole on September 7, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Before I retired from my job as a UPS driver, I would recall my days delivery stops in order. IF I was still awake, I would then recall the streets on my route in order. I would also do this on days off when I had no stops to recall. I still occasionally recall the streets and if I’m still awake I do them backwards. The trick is to
    concentrate on something by rote which is inconsequential!

    • Charles Levin on October 5, 2022 at 10:25 am

      Good one. I’d imagine after many years on the road, you will always remember those streets and customers who became friends along the way, like me.

  4. Kathy A. Johnson on March 2, 2024 at 3:26 pm

    My husband is envious of me that I fall asleep so easily. He says he can’t turn his mind off. I just tell mine to put it in my dreams now. For a few decades, I kept a pencil and pad of paper on my nightstand if I kept thinking when I wanted to be snoring. I would just jot the ideas down, sometimes even in the dark. Knowing I could deal with them later, I told my mind to rest.

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