I am hearing a lot about the importance of getting adequate sleep recently. I think this is due to a couple of reasons. First, people are getting more serious about maintaining their wellness, and sleep is an important component in being healthy. Second, we live in stressful times, and stress has a negative impact on sleep.
But I also think that living with a chronic condition can affect sleep, with causes that are both physical and emotional. While getting enough rest is that much more important.
So of course there are also lots of articles in the media about the importance of a good night’s sleep. And a whole new industry of various sleep aids, some more credible than others.
Better Sleep Begins with Getting in the Right Mood
This article is not intended to beat the same drum about the importance of sleep. I am sure I would be preaching to the choir on that one. Nor is it my intention to provide an overview of tips and techniques for better sleep.
Instead, my focus here is on how you can prepare yourself emotionally to have a better night’s sleep. In other words, to get in the mood for sleep.
Full disclosure: If sleep were an Olympic event, I would definitely not qualify for anybody’s team. I have always envied people who seem to be able to drop off to sleep at will. That’s not me. So when my client talk about sleep problems, I can definitely relate. I can also share what’s worked for me.
Why focus on mood? It has been my experience that if you are feeling angry, frustrated, fearful, or otherwise stressed, the get-to-sleep techniques are most likely going to be minimally helpful. On the other hand, if you do get yourself in the mood to rest, you will be more likely to be successful.
So here are some ideas:
Contemplate the day you just had. Help clear your mind by thinking about what went well, what didn’t go so well, what you want to celebrate, what you want to work on. If you find that the events of the day have a way of paying you a visit when you are trying to sleep, or in the middle of your sleep, taking the time to do this review can help you sort the day out before you hit the pillow. You may want to do some journaling as well.
And the day ahead. Consider the day ahead, what you’re looking forward to and anything you’re not so excited about. You may as well, because chances are your active mind is going to throw these thoughts in your direction anyway. Jot down anything you want to get done so it’s not not jangling around in your head when the lights go off.
Use some positive self-talk… Remind yourself that you can handle whatever comes your way, because you’ve done it before. Review your strengths. And your support. Remind yourself that you probably can’t fix anything now, anyway, so you may as well rest and deal with it in the morning.
Along with an attitude of acceptance. You’re human. You’re doing the best you can. And so are the people around you. Help yourself to not get caught up in reliving anything that didn’t go so well by accepting you can’t change what’s already happened. Show yourself some patience and compassion by letting go of the need to be perfect. Do the same for others.
Don’t make getting enough sleep a life or death proposition. My clients often do a lot of “oh my gosh-ing” when they don’t feel sleepy enough, or when they wake up in the middle of the night. I’ve done that myself. This is called getting anxious about being anxious. The more you stress out about being awake, the more likely you will stay awake. Self-talk can help, starting with reminding yourself that if tomorrow you’re a little more tired than you would like to be, this will be annoying but not a catastrophe. Dial it down.
Focus on something you’re grateful for. A memory from the past, something that always makes you happy, something you’re looking forward to. Hold it in your mind, turn it around and around. Head to the bedroom with a smile on your face.
You can’t control your thoughts, but you don’t have to be controlled by them. So work with your thoughts, and not against them, to get yourself in the mood for a good night’s sleep. You can do it!