It’s night time. The house is dark. You have technically finished your day. You are lying in bed. Everyone else is asleep (or seems to be) but you are W.I.R.E.D.
It’s nighttime. Your day is done. Your house is so still and quiet that you can hear the clock ticking and the neighbors’ dog barking 5 houses away. Inside your thoughts are LOUD and fast. Sleep feels like some far-off pipe dream that “other people” get to experience.
Today we are talking about:
How to get to sleep when I can’t!
We live in a culture of doing and many of us seem to be more wedded to our to-do-list at times than we may be to our partners or friends.
The notifications, the “beeps” and “dings” from all our devices affect our brain by triggering the same rush of dopamine (a ‘feel good’ hormone) as the sounds from a poker machine in the casino. We are addicted to these devices because the phone companies have leveraged the same addiction pathways as they use to hook us on the pokies(!) If you don’t believe me or if you aren’t informed of this, I implore you to check it out on this documentary The Social Dilemma.
The constant stream of content from our phones, our tvs, our emails, our letterboxes, our ipads. The constant demands from the people around us. The life admin. the bills. The pets. The washing. The perceived social pressure to do better, faster, slimmer, cooler, richer…Is it any wonder that we feel wired even when we are in a “normal day” in normal awake hours let alone that it feels hard to wind down when the sun goes down?Somedays I feel like I am the Roadrunner in that Looney Tunes cartoon (oops showing my age!) darting here and there and then going so fast that I don’t slow down enough when I can or should. Is it just me or is that you too?
In order to dial ourselves down enough to sleep, we need to develop some consciousness firstly about how dialed in we are and secondly, actively take steps to take our foot off the gas so that we can rest at the end of the day.
Introducing “Sleep Hygiene“
It’s a super weird term that always urks me as it sounds so….boring and medicalized but this is the strategy to assist you to develop more intentional sleep habits which will help your brain feel more able to rest.
I have attached an awesome PDF from Headspace which is FULL of tips to set yourself up for success when it comes to going to bed and getting to sleep. Have a read of that and you can change things in your evening routine TODAY.
The principles are that you need to actually develop a “going to bed routine.” It is not just about switching off the last device, turning off your light, shutting your eyes and hoping for the best. It is about slowing yourself down in the hour(s) before bed. Changing the lighting in your house. Unplugging from screens at least 30 mins before you want to get to sleep. Having a ritual to end your day.
I want to add one of my own personal tips for helping that busy mind:
– Put a notepad and pen in an easily accessible spot next to your bed.
– Whenever your mind jumps to that “next thing” you need to remember or that certain thing you are worried about, I want you to scribble it onto the page.
– You don’t even need to turn the light on to do it – just scribble it onto the page. Making it neat is irrelevant. Once it is written down, I want you to say out loud or to yourself “Ok brain, I have written that down and I will respond to that tomorrow and now it is time to rest.”
– Continue this each time something new pops up to keep you awake.
We want to PUT those worries and thoughts somewhere so that your mind doesn’t need to worry that you might forget about it.
Write it ALL down and then invite yourself to rest. Over and Over again.
You are training your brain to notice the cues for rest. Eventually sleep will come – especially if you follow all the other sleep hygiene hacks in the attachment.
I am keen to hear how you go. Leave a comment below.
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