A recent post on Facebook recently asked “how much sleep do you get per night”
I was overwhelmed at the response I got.
It would seem that some people were getting as little as 2 – 3 hours per night, and this is not good. Sleep is when our body starts to do all the repairing, restoring and resting that it needs to be able to function the next day. If it is not getting this downtime, then it is already working on a deficit.
For years I didn’t sleep well, and I know that might be due to stress and anxiety and later the menopause.
I would fall asleep really quickly, but I would wake during the night:
- Anxious about work and the ever-growing to-do list
- Anxious about things I had forgotten to do during the day
- Worried about being the best I could be for my family
- Stressed about how I was going to pay the bills and clear my debt
- Stressed because I was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a single parent and busy professional Project Manager in a large corporate where redundancies were never far away
- My eating habits were not helping – I was eating late, and way too many carbs, plus alcohol.
Despite making some changes, it turns out all I did was create a different external world (change of jobs, moved house etc), I didn’t change my internal world, my beliefs, emotions and thoughts.
And to add to my woes, I then went through the menopause, which, aside from the excessive sweating, also creates its own anxiety, I was a bit of a mess!
And I ate more carbs, I ate drank more tea and coffee and somehow became even busier to make sure that I was ‘doing everything’. Yes, my life was go, go, go from the moment I got up, until I went to bed, and it was the same at weekends. I was having NO REAL downtime. Any spare time was about ‘catching up ‘ on my sleep, which just threw out any remaining ability to sleep at night.
Some really bad habits!
I did eventually come through this. I had to ask myself ‘Why can’t I sleep even though I am tired?’. Fortunately, i was learning about how we have been programmed since birth to be who we are today, and some of that programming is not suitable for our lifestyles today. Where we believe we have to ‘be’ a certain type of person; behave in certain ways; be all different kinds of person, except for ourselves. I now knew I had to take back control, one step at a time.
I began, very slowly, changing my diet. – I quit caffeine, I reduced my alcoholic intake until now it may be just a few glasses a month, I reduced my carbs intake in the evening, as well as the time I ate. I ate more salads and vegetables. I relied less and less on pre-packaged food and cooked from scratch. This was not something that happened overnight, but gradually and one for another day to explain why.
I learnt to have a set time to lie down at night and this was crucial in helping my body clock reset. I know all is going well when I find myself waking up earlier than before usually about 6.30am/7.00pm – my body’s typical requirement for sleep being about 7- 8 hours
I learned meditation or at least how to, for short periods, be aware of what my thoughts were doing!
I have a space that is clutter-free and quiet. The lighting is subdued, I rarely use the ceiling light, using more a small lamp or my orange salt lamp that gives a beautiful glow to the room.
I have journaled for years, and this has not changed. If I have lots going on, I will journal or make notes of things that may be bothering me. Perhaps even asking questions, without requiring the answers. (My unconscious has learnt when to give me information and to answer those questions!). Primarily, this exercise is about getting those thoughts out of my head and down on paper so that I can ‘see’ them, rather than have them go around and around in my head and waking me up!
After the usual bathroom duties, I now put on a guided meditation for sleep, but not one of my own (who likes the sound of their own voice eh?? I listen to Jason Stephenson on YouTube who has a wide variety of sleep meditations and well worth checking out!
My nighttime routine changes according to where I am in life, and I have learnt that there are many variants, you just have to find one that works for you!
If overthinking, stressing or anxiety is the cause of your sleepless night, then please reach out for a no-obligation 30 -minute call with me, to see what might be an underlying cause and whether I am the right person to work with you. Or just get in touch and let me know what you thought of the blog.