We have all been there – whether we have a tendency to insomnia or not. Three hours of sleep, or perhaps just one, or none. Tossing and turning and finally just counting minutes for the alarm to go off (and being oddly grateful when it finally does). However, the difference between a good sleeper and a poor sleeper isn’t what we do at night, but what we do during the day.
Nearly all my friends have told me that they sleep poorly once in a while. That said they seem not to understand what’s the problem. “If I have a shitty night I know I will sleep like log the following one” or “yeah, it happens once in a while, but that’s normal isn’t it. Just live with it”. I can often even smell some smugness in there, and certainly not truckloads of empathy. At first I was a bit hurt but then I realized they were right (pretty annoying to admit this, I like being right myself). Good sleepers waste zero seconds during the day to think about their sleep and forthcoming night. They simply trust it will be sorted and, as a non-surprising consequence, good sleep will return to them like a self-evident brownie point. Meanwhile in the insomnia land, sensitive sleepers use their precious days worrying the next night (“what if I don’t sleep again”, “I won’t survive another day feeling this knackered”) and sooner than they realise they have built a hate-fear relationship with their sleep.
So how to survive the day after a sleepless night?
1. The first one is to remember this: people can function well with the occasional short sleep. In fact, our organs require only three hours to renew themselves and the first third of the night is most restorative . And even better news: People run marathons with one hour sleep (yes, it says 1, you read correctly). So next time when you feel exhausted in the morning cherish the thought that it’s not you running that marathon.
2. Do NOT cancel key plans. The minute we start to withdraw and feel sorry for ourselves is the moment we become insomniacs. Trust me, I have been there, and that track only leads to insomnia-hell. I am not saying that we need to do absolutely everything we planned (skip that non-human spinning class) but stick to the stuff that matters in the end of the day and gives you good feelings as the day closes up.
3. Be merciful to yourself. This is actually not a contradiction to the above tip. This is about how we live through the day and accomplish our tasks. I have learned that just choosing a bit slower pace and slotting in a bit more rests makes the day feel quite different. Bad night’s sleep is a reminder that something is off balance and we should take notice and react accordingly.
4. Let your mind rest. You don’t necessarily need to “meditate” if that isn’t your thing but just doing something relaxing for ten minutes or so allows your mind to rest and renew. My favourites are having a walk on the downs with my dog or doing legs up the wall. The latter is easy, you can do it almost anywhere inside and even a short spell does miracles both to your body and mind.
5. Give yourself a treat. We are not robots. There are days when we succeed in whatever we do and days when we need a bit more wind-down. It’s about balance. When we have slept poorly it’s time to be nice to ourselves – certainly not the opposite. A treat could be your favourite lunch, pedicure, coffee with your best friend or a movie. Whatever makes you smile.
And do know this: According to the research of Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University, a human being has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day—and 90% of these are repetitive! This is quite disturbing news, isn’t it? Am I poisoning my mind and body with my (rotten) thoughts. Bet I am! Who else would it be?
Practise of the day (after a slack slumber): Waste ZERO thoughts of your total of 60k into sleep/insomnia/bedroom or anything even close.
It would be valuable to get some feedback on this topic. Have you noticed the toxic thoughts damaging your sleep-confidence? What has happened/helped?
Discovering the Joy of Sleep,