Sleeping like a Stoic

Ancient wisdom to put you to sleep

Welcome to The Stoa Letter, the newsletter on Stoic theory and practice.

Every week we share two emails to help you build resilience and virtue with ancient philosophy. Each email includes one meditation on Stoic theory, one action to do in order to become more Stoic, and links to the best resources we’ve found.

🏛️ Theory

There is a fundamental divide in the world. Between things that are and are not up to you.

This realization can help you build resilience and focus. Yet, it may also help you find calm and a good night’s rest.

Often the obstacles to sleep are intruding thoughts about sleep itself. We believe we must fall asleep by a particular time. So we toss and turn. We wonder what the time is. We become anxious over the fact that we are not asleep. This anxiety is stimulating and makes it even more difficult to sleep.

But whether or not you sleep is not up to you.

Yes, you can make it more likely that you fall asleep at a certain time. You can decide to prepare for sleep with a sleep ritual, eliminate caffeine, and set yourself up for a successful slumber.

But there is no switch you can flip to immediately find rest. Accepting this fact may make it more likely that you will stay relaxed. If you’re up later than you’d like, remember that this fact is, at that very moment, not up to you.

Is this a silver bullet for all sleep issues? By no means. Serious insomnia requires more targeted measures.

Yet, when you’re tossing and turning, remembering that you have nothing else to do and nowhere else to be brings calm.

🎯 Action

If you notice your mind running away from you, pause, and clarify what is and is not up to you.

🔗 Resources

🌘 We’ve extended our series of evening routines in Stoa. You’ll find short sleep meditations that help you review the day, put the past and future to rest, and turn to sleep. Download the app here.

As always, if you truly cannot afford the app, reach out to us after your trial and we’ll set you up with a free account.

💬 Let’s end with an apt quote from Marcus Aurelius:

Be sober once more, recall yourself and shake off sleep again. Perceive that they were dreams which troubled you, and once again fully awake, look at these things as you looked at those.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.31

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