Waking up in the morning feeling tired, cranky and very sleep deprived and thinking thoughts like “I haven’t had enough sleep. Why can’t I sleep? If I just had more sleep I would feel SO much better.” Every night worrying about not getting to sleep, not staying asleep or not getting enough sleep. Sound familiar?
You have tried hot milk, alcohol, counting sheep and even sleeping tablets but you are still having trouble getting to sleep, getting enough sleep and staying asleep.
It’s time to go to the source of the problem. It’s time to start changing your thoughts and beliefs about you and sleep from you + sleep = trouble to you + sleep = peace.
Presenting: The four most common issues that get in the way of a good nights sleep:
1. Worrying or “busy brain” syndrome.
You can get into bed feeling tired, sleepy, so wanting a good nights sleep and “HELLO” your brain is wide awake, racing at 100 mph on 10 different subjects at once OR you are worrying. Worrying is a form of focused attention where we are either telling ourselves a very realistic and vivid story about all the things that could go wrong and how we would feel, OR an attempt to solve a problem.Worrying gives you the illusion that you are actually doing something about the issue when the reality is, all you are doing is telling yourself a story about all the horrible things that could go wrong. Not productive OR conducive to sleep!
How do you stop “busy brain” syndrome?
- Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each night before bed to write your “to -do” list or brainstorm ideas. This gets a lot of the stuff you worry about getting done out of your head and onto paper and will help clear your mind. Keeping a journal is also wonderful and I highly recommend beginning a Gratitude Journal. Keep your Gratitude journal beside your bed and before you sleep, write down something that you feel truly grateful for. It could be something you experienced during the day like a compliment, something cute your child said or anything you really connect to with a feeling of heart felt gratitude. As your journal builds up, you will have lots of positive memories to read through and if you make this the last thing you do before you sleep, you are going to sleep with warm fuzzy feelings that help you relax AND creating a positive association with going to bed. Win-Win!
- Get yourself a worry chair. When your brain is buzzing and you just can’t relax, set up a worry chair in your home. Choose a hard kitchen or plastic chair and put it in a spot that is preferably cold and not that comfortable. Then, sit in your worry chair and for the next 5 to 10 minutes, indulge in some intensive WORRY. Run your scary stories, tell your tale of woe, stress your little heart out! Trust me, by having a hard chair in a cold place with nothing to do but worry, your bed will soon begin to look VERY inviting! Also, you have given yourself 100% permission to worry which helps you get it out of your system. NEVER stay in bed when you are stuck with busy brain syndrome. Get up, write it out or go to your worry chair. Make sure that your bed becomes and STAYS a place of sleeping, comfort and pleasure.
Chronic pain is high on the list of things that will keep you asleep. If you suffer from chronic pain, first check with your Doctor and take his or her advice. Most pain can be reduced by deep relaxation or applications of heat such as wheat packs or comfortable hot baths or showers. Gentle stretching or physiotherapy regularly depending on your condition can help reduce the pain and strengthen your body and exercise really helps alleviate stress and enables you to feel calmer and more relaxed. Hypnotherapy is fabulous and EFFECTIVE for creating deep relaxation that assists with reducing pain. If hypnotherapy is something you want to try, consider my “Rejuvenation” hypnotherapy MP3 that you can download here for just $9.99. It’s specifically designed to provide deep, healing relaxation for people with chronic pain or illness and I have had lots of positive feedback from my clients who have used it.
3. A negative sleeping mindset and ritual.
We all have a ritual before we go to bed. For some of us, it’s as simple as getting changed, brushing teeth and slipping into bed for a solid 6 to 8 hours of glorious sleep. Here is the secret that these lucky people share. They expect it to happen! All the beliefs they have about going to sleep and sleeping, support and set up the good nights sleep that they get. You will hear them say things like “I can sleep anywhere”; “I never have a problem going to sleep”; I am looking forward to a good nights sleep tonight”; or “I have always been a good sleeper”. Their self-talk and their beliefs about how easily they sleep becomes their reality and they have a positive expectation about going to sleep.
If your beliefs about sleep are along the lines of “I always have trouble sleeping”; I never get enough sleep” or “why can’t I sleep?” you probably also have anxiety as bed time gets closer, worry that you won’t get to sleep tonight, worry that there is something wrong with you because you can’t sleep, fear of what may happen if you don’t get enough sleep. All of your thoughts and beliefs around sleep are centered around fear and anxiety. You have a negative expectation about going to sleep and your experiences only add more weight to your beliefs and it becomes your reality.
What is your sleeping self-talk? If you identify as a “poor sleeper” you really need to change that affirmation. As strange as it sounds, you can change your sleeping experience by changing your thoughts around it. When my youngest child was a baby, I was living on broken sleep constantly and found myself saying and thinking things like “I will never get back to sleep” and worrying about how little sleep I was getting each feeding time through the night. During the day my dominant thoughts were all about how little sleep I was getting and fear that I was not getting enough sleep to function. I made a conscious effort to change my sleeping story. At night I made my dominant thought “I go back to sleep quickly and easily”, kept that thought consistent and made it my mantra.
It took some time but as the weeks passed, that’s exactly what happened. I supported myself during the day by thinking “I always get the sleep that I need” and it really made a huge difference to me. Make your mantra something like; “I always sleep well”; “I always get enough sleep”; “It’s so easy for me to sleep” or “I sleep deeply and wake refreshed”. Be consistent, actively work at changing your affirmations about sleep (yes, every thought IS an affirmation) and see what happens. You have nothing to lose and much to gain and best of all, it’s free!
4. Midnight Pit Stops.
Whether it’s prostate problems, pregnancy peeing or just getting older, trips to the toilet at night can really get in the way of a good nights sleep. How do you reduce your midnight pit stops or make them more manageable?
- Stop drinking liquids after 7pm. Those cups of tea or coffee or glasses of your regular evening nightcap could be coming back to haunt you after midnight. Try putting a liquid limit on yourself each evening and see if it helps you. I know from experience that when I started doing this, I went back to sleeping through the night. If you need to take medication before bed, take it as early as you can with as small an amount of water as you can.
- If you still wake for an after midnight pit stop, train yourself to “toilet sleep walk”. This is an effective habit that I discovered for myself during pregnancy and I am sure I am not alone in making this discovery. I surrendered to the fact that I WOULD be waking up and I practiced staying in a half asleep, relaxed state to “sleepwalk” to the toilet and go back to bed. I created affirmations to support it (refer to issue 3 above) and most times, I went straight back to sleep after my toilet sleepwalk. Problem solved.
So there you have it, my top tips to get better sleep. Try them and let me know how they worked for you and if you are a chronic insomniac, some hypnotherapy sessions to help dissolve those old patterns may be just the thing you need!