What You’ll Learn
- Is your effort to get good sleep, hurting you?
- Sleep is something that happens naturally, not yet another thing you must DO.
- While the importance of sleep is real, the over-hyping of it can turn it into an 800lb gorilla and crush you chances of actually getting to sleep.
- Don’t stress about it, Instead – set the stage & surrender all the rest
- The key to sleep is the let yourself off the hook (after all, the body will sleep naturally as long and as much as it needs – It’s only when the mind interferes that this cycle is disrupted.
- No one in the history of being told to relax, ever relaxed. Sleep is no different. using ‘effort’ counteracts the very thing you’re trying to accomplish
Do you spend sleepless nights stressing about how you can’t sleep? You read the latest in health, and “experts” tell you that sleep is the most important piece. But you tend to function alright without the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night. It makes you wonder… Is sleep that important? In truth, it is important. But the stressors we place around it might be doing more harm than good. In this article, we explore 6 grounded techniques that address the root of your sleep issues and help you get the rest you need (as opposed to what you’re told you need). These 6 techniques also go against everything else you’re told about sleep. They include giving yourself permission to stay up all night, setting the stage with pillow conditioning, creating a simple morning routine, preparing a sleep contingency plan, practicing evening affirmations, and changing your mindset from scarcity to abundance.
Is Sleep That Important?
You’ve done everything possible to optimize your sleep. From creating the perfect evening and before-bed routine to ensuring your bed is set-up in an area of darkness and quiet, you’ve done it all. And you’ve read all the studies. You know that sleep is necessary for leading a happy, healthy, and full life. But do we place too much emphasis on it? Is sleep that important? And are these optimizations hindering your sleep even more?
Perhaps you’ve been pondering these questions to yourself. Your sleep still isn’t ideal. Maybe you’ve even become more stressed about your sleep since beginning these optimization practices. You find you’re over-obsessing about it, and it definitely isn’t helping.
Interestingly, monks sleep only one hour per night. Sadguru says, “You don’t need sleep – what the body needs is rest. And rest comes from the mind.” When you’re breathing normally, eating good foods, moving mindfully, and creating optimal efficiency within your body, you require less sleep. Sadguru compared this to the functioning of a car. You don’t drive your car for 15 days at a time, then leave it to rest and reset for 15 days afterward. It’s simply not efficient. The same concept applies to the human body. If you need 7-12 hours to reset each day, the human mechanism is not being used in the most efficient way. When the body and mind are aligned properly, a large amount of sleep is not necessary.
The overemphasis you and society places on getting 8 hours of sleep per night may be creating enough stress to negatively impact your sleep. Ask yourself: Is your effort to get a good night’s sleep possibly hurting you?
Sleep is something that happens naturally. It shouldn’t be added as yet another item on your to-do list. For instance, animals don’t stress or stick to a strict sleep schedule or routine. They naturally sleep when they feel tired. It comes down to trusting your body to do what it does naturally. And while blue blocker research and other sleep studies are valid, there can be too much of a good thing. It is possible to take these sleep optimization methods too far.
So while the importance of sleep is real, the over-hyping and over-stressing about it can turn into an 800lb gorilla and crush your chances of actually getting to sleep. In other words, you don’t want to be stressing about it. You want to set the stage and be able to surrender to rest. And to do so, you may need to let yourself off the hook. You may need to unhinge the mind from disrupting your body’s natural cycle.
If you look back in history, no one that has been told to relax has ever relaxed. In fact, quite the opposite may happen. They become more stressed out. The same concept applies to sleep. By using effort, you may very well be counteracting the very thing you’re trying to accomplish.
6 Techniques to Regain the Rest You Need
1. Give Yourself Permission to Stay Up All Night
If you find yourself getting stressed about sleep, give yourself permission to stay up all night. This has psychological ramifications of inducing a more relaxed response. Ultimately, this doesn’t leave you at odds with yourself nor does it leave you tossing and turning throughout the night.
The Sleep Foundation states that by eliminating the stress causing insomnia, the insomnia itself should disappear. Stress leads to a hyper-aroused state. This can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep. By giving yourself permission to stay up and not stress about it, you might find that your stress dissolves and you become sleepy as a result.
2. Set the Stage with Pillow Conditioning
Pillow conditioning is used in psychology to create an association. Your pillow and bed should be associated with sleep. Thus, they should only be reserved for sleep.
This means you don’t use your phone in bed, you don’t watch T.V. in bed, and you don’t read in bed. Your bed and pillow are a sacred place saved for only sleep. If you choose to read 20 minutes before bed, do this in a different room, then go to bed and try to fall asleep. If you aren’t asleep within 20 minutes, get up and try something else. Make sure it isn’t a particularly stimulating activity. After 20 minutes, try to go to bed again. Go through this cycle as many times as it takes to fall asleep. Typically, the more you go through this cycle, eventually, the less repetition it takes and the more your body recognizes that when your head is on the pillow or your body is in bed, sleep is what you do. It may take many repetitions at first. But eventually, most individuals get it down to about 1-2 cycles and are able to fall asleep within 20 minutes.
3. Create a SIMPLE Morning Routine
Many individuals turn to an evening routine to optimize and maximize their sleep. Yet, anxiety around sleep is caused by unrest. Have you ever thought about having and practicing a simple morning routine?
A morning routine can serve as your anchor or rock. It’s something you do no matter how little sleep you’ve had. You want to make your morning routine simple enough that you can do it even with no sleep. It could consist of a couple minutes of stretching or even just getting up and washing your face. Try it out. A morning routine might be just what you need to get through the night, as well as allow you to fall into a restful sleep.
4. Prepare a Sleep Contingency Plan
If you can’t sleep, have a plan. This means setting aside a boring task – maybe something you’ve been putting off – to do when you can’t sleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. For example, maybe you’ve been procrastinating organizing your book shelf or finally going through your “office/storage” room. Do these tasks when you have trouble sleeping. But make sure to select one mundane option. It provides an easy way to be productive in unproductive times. And interestingly, a lot of the time, you might find that you can’t even stay awake for the whole task.
5. Practice Evening Affirmations
Affirmations can help shift your mindset to embrace positivity. Try repeating affirmations such as “I am safe, I am home, I am whole,” “My body gets all the rest it needs” or “There is plenty of time and plenty of space.”
Try repeating affirmations such as “I am safe, I am home, I am whole,”
Performing these affirmations before bed is an optimal time to do so. Psychology Today states that the subconscious mind is more open to suggestions, like affirmations, during the alpha brainwave state. Before sleep, you are in this state. Thus, affirmations may have even more of an impact on you and your mind. It gives your head and mind space. It also allows you to move away from worrying about a lack of sleep and toward thinking about how much sleep you’re going to have, which leads into our next technique.
6. Change Your Mind From Scarcity to Abundance
If you can’t sleep, try not to think about how little time you have to sleep. You might automatically think, “I only have 4-5 hours to sleep. I’m going to be so tired tomorrow.” Instead, think of this time as a gift. Consider it “bonus” time to finally read that book or article you’ve been wanting to check out or use your imagination to find something useful to do.
Trust and believe that you will have all the energy you need to get you through the next day. This is an abundance mindset. The opposite of this, a scarcity mindset, will leave you feeling stuck and unable to sleep, as well as lacking energy. An abundant mindset, on the other hand, allows you to enjoy this free time, without stress. It, again takes you off of the hook. Thus, your body and mind can relax and you can get to sleep faster.
Is Your Effort to Get to Sleep Hurting You?
Beginning with TS Wiley’s book: “Light’s Out: Sleep, Sugar & Survival” to the biohacking community that really ran with it and all the studies, and New York times articles that came with, the notion that “we must get an optimal sleep or else” gripped western society. Yet, the Pendulum of Polarity may ever swing back and forth but the truth will always be the truth and the body never lies. In other words, listening to your body always leads to the best outcome regarding well-being and health.
And rather than buying the latest sleep gadget or blue light item, seek to deepen your connection with your body. Listen to the signs of fatigue. Sleep when you need it. Rest when you need it. And work when you feel inspired to work. Our goal shouldn’t be to control or manipulate the body with hacks or gadgets. Rather, we should set the stage for success, using strategies like the above 6 techniques, and calm the mind with conviction that our body inherently wants and needs to be healthy. Empower yourself with the tools, skills, and knowledge to reach optimal health and regain the rest you need each night. Guide the body toward what it does naturally.
Sleeping less is no longer a badge of honor. It used to be about working harder and pushing farther. Now, western culture tells us to sleep more and that balance is important. This is where the 7-9 hours of sleep a night derived from. But realistically, it’s about meeting in the middle of these two extremes. From there, you can set your body up for success and allow it to do what it naturally strives to do.
Is your effort to get sleep hurting you? Have you tried getting to the root of your problems via the above techniques? Do they work for you? Did we miss anything? Leave a comment in the comment section below and let us know.
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