Rule #1: Drop any thought of sleep. Let go of sleep completely. Don't think something has gone wrong. Don't think you should be asleep. This is ultimate nonresistance, or aligning with the reality of being awake. Whatever you're doing here, it's not trying to go back to sleep. In fact, drop all striving. Here you are, as you are: there's nothing to fix; there's no problem. For now, it looks like you're awake. You're conscious, so it's time to meet consciousness.
Rule #2: Cultivate a consciousness of rest. You're going to let go of sleep, but you're also going to set yourself up to make the best of this opportunity to rest. So …
Don't get up and do things (or set a very brief time for doing).
Do absolutely nothing with a bright screen, and ideally nothing with a screen at all; get away from your devices.
Don't read (or set a very brief time for reading).
Don't think about things (and, if you must, set a very brief time for thinking).
Rule #3: Bring it to now. Have no thought about tomorrow. Do not give yourself to bleak predictions about how the next day (year, four years) will go. Don't wonder whether or how you'll get through. Don't play scenes of all that will go wrong or how badly you'll show up. Don't imagine yourself failing, falling apart, being awful to the people around you; don't imagine horrors for others or the world. Don't strategize about how you'll get through—it's not time for that; right now, it's not needed. Stay out of tomorrow altogether. In order to meet consciousness now, you need to be here now. (In Byron Katie's 3 kinds of business, tomorrow is not your business! When you go there—outside of appropriate planning, which doesn't happen in bed—you abandon yourself. Let tomorrow take care of itself and show up for yourself right now.)
Rule #4: Do not think about anything. While this concept already appeared under rules #2 and #3, it's important enough to be a rule unto itself. This is not the time to think things through, review, evaluate, plot & scheme, make decisions, figure it out—none of it. This means, of course, that you'll catch yourself thinking. Your job is to bring yourself back. Move from thought to breath. Be willing to do this over and over, however many times it takes. Don't count. Don't tell yourself it's not working. It works only for right now, if in this moment, one more time, you move from thought to breath. Don't waste time in frustration or self-flagellation on the way. Catch yourself in thought, drop back to the breath. That's your one job.
Rule #5: Act like a sleeping body.
Sleeping bodies tend to be still. Act like that kind of sleeping body.
Sleeping bodies are relaxed; all muscles are released. There's nothing to strive or strain for right now (and you know that straining for sleep--or for solutions to any problems keeping you awake--won't work). Give yourself to gravity, to your mattress, to all that supports you.
Sleeping bodies breathe deeply and rhythmically. Inhabit your belly. Drop all awareness and attention to the belly and watch it go up and down. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. Keep coming back to the breath.
At the risk of repeating myself, sleeping bodies don't lie around thinking. See if you can feel the buzz of energy over and around your head when you're embroiled in thoughts, and drop your energy down to the belly, inhabiting the breath.
If you must move—say, to adjust body or bedsheets—or you must get up for something, make your movements slow, gentle, deliberate. No frustrated or frenetic energy allowed! Stay as close to stillness as possible.
Rule #6: Tell yourself (say it aloud if it helps), I'm conscious. It must be time to meet consciousness. Here, you're aligning with reality, practicing nonresistance. You're also experimenting with the possibility that it's a friendly Universe, in which all that happens is for your good. Nothing comes to squash or thwart you, though sleep deprivation can make you feel that way like nothing else. Everything is here to further heal and evolve you.Harness this idea to support you in meeting consciousness right now, with curiosity, letting yourself go into the possibility of being held by a friendly Universe. This sleep program, Give It a Rest, will walk you through many ways to play with meeting consciousness, so you won't have to figure it out all by yourself.
Endnotes Byron Katie describes her 3 kinds of businesses in the book Loving What Is.
In my book, Scooch!, I treat the 3 kinds of business in chapter 7, “Getting Out of Overwhelm.” Notice how you get overwhelmed when you mentally go to tomorrow and worry about all it holds for you (all the ways you'll suffer, all the ways you'll fail, all the political climate of the moment could lead to). This can only make the moment of lying awake less manageable. In chapter 4, “(Quit Telling Me to) Breathe,” there's some good stuff on the healing power of the breath. Throughout the book, there's material on nonresistance; on connecting to now; on trusting (or experimenting with the idea) that all that life brings you is for your healing and evolution; and a whole lot more.