Too Stressed to Sleep? Here’s How to Deal
If another person stresses me out by telling me how the lack of sufficient sleep can lead to a compromised immune system (even tumor growth), cognitive decline (a precursor to Alzheimer’s), fatigue, irritability, carelessness, clumsiness, weight gain, diabetes and premature aging, you can bet that I will stay up all night worrying about it! And if another life coach or therapist writes that the sleep solution is to manage daytime stress and relax, I will let out a primal yelp. Does anyone who is emotionally charged ever calm down when someone says, “Relax?”
By now everyone knows about cooling down and removing all hints of technology from the bedroom at night. Also those who take sleep medications realize that they are habit forming and can leave you groggy in the am. So how do you reset your body and your mind to rest especially in a society where no one brags to the boss about how much sleep he got?
- Emotionally sleep means letting go and basically trusting that you will wake up. Since many people experience difficulty letting go, even a small thing like a little critical remark, it could help in all life aspects to make up your mind to let go. Yesterday on the first morning of eastern daylight savings time where I gained an extra hour of sleep, I put it to good use. I cleaned out a couple of drawers filled with clutter. Tidying up and throwing away stuff on the physical level helped remind me to let go of intrusive, ill-serving thoughts to de-clutter emotionally.
- If I wake up feeling like I did not get enough sleep, I make sure to rest while I am awake during the day - even at work. For example, I intensely focus my eyes on an object for a couple of minutes and then release my gaze to see it with soft eyes. Also, I imagine my body flying through time and space like Michael Keaton in Birdman. Is there an image or scene which you conjure up that is relaxing?
- Reading a book before bedtime is great, but make it a classic you never read in your English curriculum. Guaranteed it won’t keep you up.
- Have an important meeting, or early activity which keeps you checking the clock all night, afraid that you will miss it? Go to bed earlier to make up the hours. You have set the stage for the rest of the night – the pressure is off now. You might even get a deeper sleep.
- Pain is a sleep thief, so it is important to manage pain. Many pain killers harm the body like triggering stomach upsets or stop working after you habituate to them. Even an unconscious sleep position can become a source of pain. For example, sleeping on your stomach could cause a back ache. Manage your pain. Find a position which is right for you like sleeping on your side with knees bent which reduces pain for some people with back problems.
- Make up your mind to dream. You will be surprised that you actually dream and remember those dreams with this intention. If your dreams are interesting, you will fall asleep faster to dream the saga.
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