Sleep, Not Worry

By Jillian

Going to sleep can often occur at the most inopportune times… in important meetings, at that romantic dinner, watching TV, etc, AND THEN when you crawl into bed ready to sleep, you toss and you turn, struggling to fall asleep. Well, the truth is, excluding a small number of cases, this is manageable and a good routine can fix it.

In our post below we discussed how a simple change to your morning routine can improve sleep and give you more energy and a productive day. Well, a good night routine can also help. While our brain is a magnificent creation, it can sometimes be our worst enemy, so here are some hacks to help you trick your brain into getting you a good night's sleep

Digital Distance:

About 30-45mins give yourself some distance from the stimulation of the digital world. This means turning off all digital devices, including the TV, and giving your brain a chance to calm down and not be constantly stimulated. Switch communication devices to silent (or even better actually turn them off) and place on charge. DO NOT take your devices into the bedroom.

Let the dusk in:

As mentioned below, sunlight plays an important role in managing our sleep and alertness. Our caveman instinct means our body is designed to shut down gradually as the sun sets. In modern life, we sit in full brightness with the TV/Devices going crazy and then expect our brain to turn off with the flick of a switch. To assist your brain prepare you for a restful sleep start turning the lights in your home off and if you have dimmer switches set the sleeping area to as low light as possible (you can do this gradually over a period of 10 -20 or so minutes if you really want to mimic sunset).

Warm Body, Cool Soul:

About 30mins before bed have a warm (not hot) shower. Our body naturally cools as we fall asleep, so often we can assist our brain (ok trick it) by gently warming the skin prior to falling asleep and then cooling it while we start to go to bed. The cooling of the body signals parts of the brain to relax as it thinks other parts are putting you to sleep (there is a much more technical explanation, but this is a very simplified description).

During the shower take time to reflect on your day and everything that you have achieved. ONLY focus on what you have achieved. Show yourself praise and gratitude for what you have done and how awesome you are. No matter how tricky your day has been there is always something you achieved - even if it was getting out of bed and showing up when you didn’t feel like it.

Clear your head:

One of the big reasons people can’t get to sleep is that their brain is racing with uncompleted tasks, jobs for the next day, or concerns you can’t shake. All of these things are completely valid, but let's be honest, how is stewing in bed and getting a terrible night's sleep so you are tired and irritated the next day in any way going to help? So a little method for managing this is starting a ‘Brain Download’ book.

A Brain Download book helps to clear your head of anything troubling you and also manage these things the next day in a proactive way. Grab a notebook - it doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact, a 50c exercise book works just as well as a $50 leather-bound number. Sit on your bed, relax with a deep breath and then write anything you feel needs to be done and any fears, feelings, thoughts, worries, or concerns. Don’t ‘search’ for items, these should be things that sit readily on your mind. Do not go into detail, write just enough to get it on paper in dot-point form 

Once out of your physical brain and into your paper brain, make a commitment (out loud if you are confident to do so) to address the items in your book when you wake up, so there is no need to worry about them overnight. The important thing though is you MUST live up to that promise! When you wake up in the morning you need to address items in your book – 

  • Where it is something that needs to be done make a clear plan to achieve it including how and when you will do it. 

  • Where it is a thought, feeling, or fear, ask yourself is it still relevant (sometimes sleep has a good way of managing these feelings)? If so what action could you take to manage it? Such as having a tricky discussion with a colleague, or seeking support. 

 Breath your time away:

The constant looking at the time keeps stressing about getting to sleep at the forefront - you glance at the time and calculate if you get to sleep now you’ll get X hours of sleep but it's getting late and….. etc etc.

When you turn the lights fully out, turn any clocks away so you can’t see them. Resist the urge to look at them, even if you wake up during the night. Close eyes and find a comfortable position. Begin breathing in through your nose and out through a gentle mouth. Concentrate on your breathing. If anything in your Brain book comes into your head, acknowledge the thought and make a commitment to deal with it tomorrow then let it go. Continue to concentrate on your breathing. Avoid giving into temptations to scratch, move, or anything else. Concentrate on your breathing.

Give it time - Practice makes perfect:

These techniques, like any other skill, take training and time. You will not magically fall asleep with ease the first night, but things will become easier and after around 10 days you will have a sleep routine that when coupled with your morning routine will give you great restful sleep, and more energy and focus during the day. Remember your brain is powerful and you can use it to your advantage! 


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