For me, great sleep is the foundation for great health.
It's almost impossible to have your best possible health if your sleep is bad, interrupted or you aren't getting enough.
As a kid I used to count sheep, hundreds and hundreds of sheep, I'd often lose count and start again.
I didn't realise at the time but even though I thought I was sleeping well, looking back my sleep was actually really bad.
What was I doing wrong?
I can't blame TV in the bedroom, tablets, mobile phones or social media - I'm 36 and it wasn't until I was 16-17 that I got a TV in my room and old mobile phones didn't have the same screen tech that we have today.
and I was having these issues in the 1990's
So what was it causing my struggle to sleep?
I didn't know it at the time but I was quite an anxious kid. I'd often be thinking about the worst case scenario, playing it over and over in my head, things happening one way, then another, then another usually ending badly.
I used to have this one dream which really scared me, perhaps I was avoiding sleep to avoid the potential of having this recurring dream.
Using my bedroom for more than sleep
My bedroom was my sanctuary, a place I could get away from my big brother and sister most of the time. I used my bed for games, reading, playing cards and spent quite a lot of time in my room.
This got my Brain to associate my room that was somewhere fun, somewhere to be awake and play.
Counting sheep upwards
When you count upwards there is no obvious end point, you just keep going and going and going for forever, it almost becomes a game to keep on going and see if you can beat your best score from yesterday or the day before.
I can remember saying to myself that I always had trouble falling asleep (staying asleep wasn't a problem for me). My self talk of "I struggle to fall asleep" was a self fulfilling prophecy. Your Brain wants to make you right every single time. If you think successful thoughts your Brain will make it more likely, if you think unsuccessful thoughts your Brain will make it more likely.
When you have these thoughts you'll put up extra barriers like:
"one more episode won't matter, I don't sleep anyway"
"what's the difference, i'll have that coffee now (8pm)"
"I've got so many things to do tomorrow, I'll just do this now (11pm)"
"urgh, the kids are up half the night anyway, what's the point going to bed early"
How to solve these problems
I don't remember when I became less anxious about sleep but it happened at some point in my teens.
Nowadays there are so many more reasons and causes for anxiety, it's a massive topic to cover but the best way I know right now to reduce anxiety is Gratitude.
Counting your blessings before bedwhat went well today? What went well yesterday/last week/last year? What's going to go well tomorrow? Fill our body with those sensations - write them down in a journal/planner and give yourself some time to feel them.
My bedroom is now only used for sleep and getting dressed or undressed. There's no technology in there at night (phone is but it's on airplane mode and at the foot of the bed)
I've stopped sending mixed messages to my body about this room. I associate my bedroom with sleep and that's pretty much it.
Start wherever you like, but I wouldn't start any higher than 100 (you can repeatedly do 10's if you like)
As you are counting down slowly think about your body relaxing 1 section at a time, notice the tension in your face relaxing, jaw, neck etc etc
Stop telling yourself that you have insomnia, bad sleep or wake up regularly in the night. Your Brain wants to please you and makes it so. Tiredness and busyness are not a badge of honour.
Begin telling yourself that you do sleep well.
Give yourself every opportunity to get quality sleep.
Go to bed at the same time EVERY night.
Wake up at the same time EVERY day.
Give yourself at least 8 hours between bedtime and any alarms.
Know what your morning routine looks like so you can plan ahead.
Journal and plan your next day in advance.
Count your blessings.
Relax. Breathe. Stretch. Mild Exercise.
Turn your phone and TV off at least 60 minutes before bed.
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If you need further help with getting to sleep, staying asleep or having more Energy in your day email Pete direct on