Giving yourself a break when you can't sleep
We all want a good night’s sleep. But sometimes it’s just not happening. A new medication gives you night sweats. The neighbor’s car alarm keeps going off. The kids want endless glasses of water. You’re worried something is wrong with the cat and she may need to go to the vet. Or you just can’t put your finger on why, but your brain won’t shut down. On top of not being able to fall asleep, an annoying voice pipes up: “Even if I fall asleep this very second, I’m going to be so tired tomorrow. There’s no way I’m getting through the day without snapping at my coworker. It’ll take so many cups of coffee to drag myself through my presentation, and I just know getting to bed tomorrow night will be even harder. What if I get into a nasty cycle of sleepdeprivation? I wish I hadn’t read all of those studies about the consequences of not getting enough sleep. What if still being awake is shortening my life…”
Nothing will lull you to sleep like forecasting doom! Instead of softening for sleep, when we stress about tomorrow, our bodies brace against relaxation. Our nervous systems get agitated, our heart rate and blood pressure rise, and our thoughts race. Instead of panicking about disasters waiting for you in the morning, you can make sleeplessness less painful by giving yourself a break: Let go of catastrophizing. You’re more resilient than you think.
Watch the video below for more:
Getting less than a full night’s sleep may not be ideal, but it’s also something you have experience handling.
We’ve all had nights when we didn’t get much sleep, but the next day was surprisingly manageable. There have been plenty of times when we even forgot we hadn’t slept well the night before. I’ve surprised myself by coordinating major events, performing well under pressure, finishing long hikes, and navigating public transport in new countries where I didn’t speak the language on minimal sleep. Some days were challenging, sure, but during plenty of them I felt fine enough to forget the frustrating night before. Many days were pretty great! The reassurance that you can handle tomorrow may be just what you need to calm your mind and relax your body. It can set the stage for rest. Not to mention that it feels better in the moment to self-soothe than to stoke our fear. So the next time you find yourself wide awake at 3am, instead of panicking, take a couple of deep breaths.
Remind yourself that tomorrow isn’t ruined. You have a solid track record of being more resilient than you think. If you want to learn some simple practices for building up your resilience and self care for sleep, join me for Yoga for Better Sleep at Carrboro Yoga Company on August 20!