I used to think a bad night sleep was the worst thing in the world. I hated staring at the ceiling all night, I would get so angry with my body for not sleeping. My thoughts would be whirling around my head and I couldn’t stop them.
I could have a week where I wouldn’t sleep more than an hour a night and by the end I would be at breaking point. I was exhausted and emotional, and I was scared of going to bed.
The problem was that the more I didn’t sleep, the more upset I became.
I had a belief that if I didn’t get 8 hours sleep the next day was going to be terrible. The moment I was awake and I knew my alarm was less than 8 hours away, I started to panic.
How things changed?
I read an amazing book called Sleep. I’m so happy I found this book, it completely changed the way I related to sleep and it improved my life massively. Almost instantly I went from weeks of sleepless nights and anger, to sleeping well most of the time.
All that changed was I learnt to take the pressure off. I learnt that I didn’t need 8 hours sleep, I learnt that I needed a certain amount of sleep each week and it didn’t really matter how that came. All the anxiety around sleep stopped and, without it, I had far fewer sleepless nights.
What I did?
I started playing a game to get better sleep. Here were the rules (as set by my new favourite book):
- If I was having a sleepless night, I would consciously relax and read my book rather than spending the whole night being super angry and frustrated that I couldn’t sleep. This part of the game was to stay as calm as possible.
- I stopped looking at my phone before bed. I would set my alarm and put my phone away before I brushed my teeth.
- I left a notebook by my bed. Everytime thoughts were racing around, I’d write them down so that I could forget about them.
- I stopped panicking. If I wasn’t sleeping I would tell myself that it was all good and then enjoy the moment, hugging myself and relaxing.
- I bought new pillows that suited my sleeping position, I made my room dark and I bought ear plugs (I live in a noisy area).
- I’d try and wake up at the same time each morning. I noticed that on days that I woke up late, the following night I would find it hard to go to bed early.
Occasionally if I have two bad nights sleep in a row I’d take a melatonin tablet to get my rhythm back, but I would never take these more that one night in a row. Purely because I believe in using your body wherever possible.
This game made a huge difference. I went from someone that had 15 bad nights sleep a month to someone who has had 5 bad nights sleep in the last six months. I am so much more at peace with the world and I know I’m going to be fit for action all the time. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with those worrying thoughts around sleep anymore.
I have so much more resilience to negative thoughts when I am well rested, and I am certainly more productive.
Sleep is so crucial to our mental wellbeing.
If you are battling with sleep issues, have a look online for tricks that will work. Often the alternative ones are the best as they are the most natural and have a lasting impact.