Women are grossly sleep deprived according to the front page of the NY Times Styles Section, Sunday Nov. 6. 2011. Described as hyper-vigilant, anxious and worried, women have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep while their male counterparts for the most part sleep more soundly. In stress- management terms what this means for a woman is that her daily endless to-do list spills over into nighttime sleep disruption along with perfectionism tapping her on the shoulder whispering: “You failed today!”
Nowadays, women worry about everything including that they won’t get a good night’s sleep. Women tell me their fears about not sleeping. “I worry when I don’t sleep that:
- I won’t be sharp at work and my memory will be affected. Sometimes I close my eyes while I’m driving and stop at a red light; someone inevitably startles me with a honk.
- I look older and feel achy. I hate it when people tell me that I look tired because they are telling me I look old.
- I will be irritable, negative and argumentative. Also, everything will take much longer to do.
- I will lie there staring in the darkness looking at the clock while everyone in my home is sleeping.
Sure, there are sleep aids from prescription medications to melatonin; I particularly enjoy watching the nocturnal butterfly acting like a sleep fairy in TV commercials. However, most meds have side effects and often require stronger doses once people get habituated. If your day is filled with stress and a lack of empowerment, pop a pill and you just treat symptoms and not the root cause.
How to become a morning person:
Instead of dwelling on how desperately you need to sleep which creates yet another obstacle to sleep, try shifting to a more positive perspective like waking up energetic, cheerful and fresh in the morning.
Here are 5 tips from morning people:
- Become aware that you can’t transform yourself into a nightly yogi who calmly closes her eyes and sleeps a deep restorative sleep when you are stressed out during the day. Every morning wake up to anticipate simple pleasures like a brisk walk, yummy meal, inspiring song, or meaningful conversation. Remember how excited you were as a child to get your day going when something special was going to happen. Schedule something special daily. Happy people sleep soundly and wake up eager to start the day.
- Become a soul climber instead of a social climber. You don’t need to prove yourself worthy or have others validate your existence – so exhausting to carry around other people’s judgments all day. Try activating joy and good humor. Wake up in the morning inviting your 5 senses to experience life moment by moment for self-growth – not jumping ahead to what’s next on the to-do list. Be fully conscious of all that you do during your wake time. This way you can go to sleep and be unconscious during sleep.
- Make up your mind to be happier with less.
- Don’t suppress your worries. They will pop up when you least expect them like in the middle of the night. Observe them play out and soon they will tire themselves out and go away.
- Sleep involves letting go, surrendering and trusting that all will be well. Give up a little control during the day, like forcing others to be like you or doing things your way. Sleep like a baby who trusts her parents.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show