What keeps you up at night?
“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake!”
So what keeps you up at night?
Is it like a song playing all night long
Stuck in your head
Things you should've done
Things you could've, should've said
Forgive and forgetting
Life's too short to let hate hang around
Sometimes I wonder, is this the last summer
These are the voices, won't leave me alone
Questions I can't put down
What keeps you up at night?
What makes your heartbeat wild?
What weighs on your mind, leaves you paralyzed?
What keeps you up at night?
Today I want to talk to you about “What keeps you up at night”. I would like to dispel some of the myths and confirm the realities.
I still have fond memories of when I was young my Father often telling me, “Hey Greg, you’re burning the candle on both ends!” I wish I could do that now!
In my previous life when I was in finance, I would ask clients, “What keeps you up at night? Often times they would respond with things like family problems, retirement, getting old or running out of money. And occasionally some very interesting things would come up about dreams they were having or other themes that were quite provocative! Sometimes downright disturbing! And it happened often enough that I made it my mission to do some research to educate myself, partially to help my clients but also for my own edification.
We’ve all been stressed out about something that affects our sleep. There are many parts of our lives that can cause anxiety that negatively affects our sleep. Some of the most common are our jobs, finances, relationships, health, lack of time, lack of fulfillment, trapped in a difficult family situation, hostile work environment, lack of career prospects etc…– the list goes on and on. Sometimes we cannot sleep for reasons we are not even aware of. So what can we do about it? We can start by becoming mindful of the problem. Then we can formulate some solutions. First let’s explore the myths about sleeping and then I will provide some practical solutions to help you cope with a world that is getting busier and faster every day.
We have all heard old wives tales about what we can do when we can’t fall asleep. Remedies like counting sheep or taking a drink. Well today I want to take you past the myths and look at what the Sleep Doctor experts have to say about it.
You know that drinking too much can mean a bad night’s sleep, but just one glass of wine or a nip of bourbon before bed won’t hurt you, right?
Actually It will. You may fall asleep fine, but as little as one drink can impair sleep quality. The alcohol can interfere with the deep, restful stage of sleep that lets you wake up feeling rejuvenated.
The idea that one drink at bedtime is harmless is just one of the sleep “myths” that might be robbing you of quality sleep—and therefore reducing your energy and mental focus, too.
Here are a few more of the most common ones and what you can do about it.
The first one is that Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci and Mozart excelled on only a few hours of sleep, so I can, too?
While it is True that Some people, maybe including the three I just mentioned have a rare genetic abnormality that lets them do well on very little sleep. If you had that anomaly, you would most likely know it—as you would wake every morning feeling refreshed after only three to five hours of sleep.
What to do: When your schedule permits—for example, when you are on vacation—let yourself fall asleep at whatever time you feel tired and get up whenever you awake refreshed. Don’t set an alarm. Do this for a week or more. The amount of sleep you get on these nights is an approximation of the amount that your body really needs which for most people will be between six and eight hours.
The next myth is that People require less sleep as they age.
The Truth is we do sleep less deeply and wake up sooner as we age—but that’s because we have more trouble sleeping. And the result is usually we are less alert and focused. Not to mention unintentional “napping” while watching TV or reading.
What you should do if you can’t get sufficient sleep at night is schedule early-afternoon naps to avoid poorly timed or unplanned naps or loss of mental sharpness.
Another Myth you may have heard or even experienced is that you don’t sleep at all some nights!
The reality is that we sometimes feel or imagine that we have laid in bed all night without getting a wink of sleep—but that’s usually not accurate. Most likely, you drifted off at least once or twice but woke up within a few hours each time. People who wake during the early stages of sleep often believe that they never fell asleep at all.
If you want to find out how much sleep you are really getting, wear a sleep tracking device to bed. Most wearable fitness trackers include a sleep-tracking function. Now If you do find that after using a tracker you sleep fewer than five hours per night and wake up for more than 30 seconds more than twice an hour and wake up feeling unrefreshed, you should see a sleep specialist about possible clinical insomnia.
Myth: Sleeping in on the weekends can help me live longer.
That’s how a lot of news articles covered a new study published in Journal of Sleep Research. Technically it’s true—but only compared with people who always sleep five hours or less a night on weeknights. And they partially made up for it by sleeping in on weekends.
The Truth is that unless you get very little sleep throughout the week, regularly oversleeping on weekends is actually bad for your health. You can’t entirely “make up” for sleep lost during the week. Research shows that you’ll have worse reaction time (behind the driver’s wheel, for example) and diminished mental focus. Plus, too much weekend sleep can throw off your sleep/wake schedule so that it’s hard to fall asleep early enough on Sunday night—messing up the following week’s schedule. We called that “social jet lag.” In fact, studies find that a pattern of sleeping more than two additional hours on weekends is linked to a rise in blood fats called triglycerides, increased risk for diabetes, weight gain and depressed mood. But don’t panic, sleeping in up to an hour or so on a Saturday or Sunday is fine.
Myth: When I can’t fall asleep, the best thing I can do is stay in bed.
The truth is that Chances are you’ll get frustrated—which makes it even harder to fall asleep.
If you’ve been lying in bed for 25 minutes or longer and you sense your frustration rising, get out of bed and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy, such as reading a book or magazine in a chair. Don’t get on your smartphone or tablet. However, If you feel relaxed and not frustrated, continue lying there until you drift off.
Now let’s talk about those sheep. We have all heard that counting sheep is a time-tested strategy for falling asleep.
The Truth is that it’s time to put the sheep back in the barn! Counting them won’t reduce the time you need to fall asleep, according to research at Oxford University. Counting sheep (or anything else you might imagine) requires so little brainpower that you still can ruminate about other matters that are probably keeping you awake.
Engaging your brain as a distraction can help you fall asleep faster, but it needs to be something more involved. For Example try counting backward by threes starting at 300. That’s boring enough to promote drowsiness but requires sufficient brainpower to deter your mind from wandering to other matters.
Our next Myth is that a warm, cozy bedroom is conducive to sleep.
The Truth is that when the body is warm, it produces less melatonin, a hormone that helps us enter the sleep cycle. There is one exception however. There is some evidence that keeping the feet warm—wearing socks, for instance—can induce sleepiness.
What to do: Set your bedroom temperature cooler at night, maybe between 65°F and 72°F. The optimal temperature for most people is 68°F to 72°F. When you have trouble falling asleep, try lowering it a few degrees at a time to see whether that helps.
Myth: A glass of warm milk will help me fall asleep.
Milk contains tryptophan (Trip toe fin), an amino acid that can be conducive to sleep—but you would have to drink a gallon and a half of milk to have any significant sleep benefit from the tryptophan. People may feel sleepy when they drink warm milk because they associate the beverage with comforting memories of a loved one putting them to bed in childhood.
So if drinking warm milk helps you fall asleep, go ahead and drink warm milk. Just be aware that the sleep benefits are purely psychological, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. The good news is that if you’re lactose-intolerant, warm soy milk or almond milk should work just as well—it’s the feeling of comfort, not the milk itself that matters.
Now that we have gotten past the myths, I would like to share some ideas to help you relax yourself during the day so when it comes time for bed, if you have already released the stress from the day, you are more likely to sleep well.
The first of course is mediation and breathing exercises. If you don’t know how to mediate, I am happy to help you with that. Ideally it would be great if you could incorporate meditation this your daily routines. Nothing is better for reducing stress and providing inner peace. That also includes breathing exercises. You need to Harness the power of your own inner strength and take control of your body with breathing exercises. I have devoted an entire section to meditating and breathing exercises in another section.
So what else can we do on a daily basis to help us get better more restful sleep?
Get a change of scenery. Go take a walk by the beach or a park. Fresh air can do wonders to help relax you.
Set aside time for yourself. Try to find a quiet peaceful place.
Exercise regularly – do both cardio and resistance.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Try prayer. Quiet reflection is always good.
Centering allows you to focus on the here and now, taking energy away from outside concerns and negative thoughts.
Take a yoga class.
Talk it out. The best way to solve a problem is to get things out in the open.
Maintain a positive outlook. Remember to strive toward using anabolic energy and not catabolic energy.
Read – it is good both for distraction and for knowledge and inspiration
Share intimacy with your partner. They will appreciate it and you will both sleep better!
Count your blessings. Even on our worst days, we have many things to be thankful for.
Spend time with an animal friend. Petting a cat or playing with a dog can be immensely helpful for relieving stress.
Have some fun and a few laughs. When was the last time you were laughing so hard your tummy hurt? Watching your favorite comedy or visiting a comedy club can sometimes be just the thing you need.
Pace yourself. Don’t try to do too much at one time.
Do a puzzle. Whether you prefer sudoku or a crossword puzzle, focusing your energy on a critical thinking task provides a great distraction from stressors.
Escape through music. Playing, singing, or just listening to your favorite tunes will surely bring a smile to your face.
Try aromatherapy. Inhaling certain scents has been shown to produce a calming effect.
Switch to decaf. Sometimes the jolt we get from caffeine can put us over the edge all by itself.
Get a massage. It’s hard to think anything but good thoughts after you’ve had a good rubdown.
If your time is truly limited and you can’t break away, get a phone app made specifically to help you detach for a few minutes. There are plenty of apps for your phone that can help you relax. Although I recommend doing this only when other suggestions I mentioned are not practical.
Now if you have done everything I have recommended and you still can’t sleep, here are some techniques that are approved by the Sand Man!
1. Do the four-seven-eight
This breathing exercise will help lull you to sleep for free:
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
Hold your breath for seven seconds.
Slowly breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds.
Repeat this process until you fall asleep.
This technique acts like a natural tranquilizer by slowing down your heart rate. The four-seven-eight breathing is subtle at first but gains power with practice.” In other words, the more you do it, the better it works.
2. Hypnotize your way to a deep sleep
Get that image of a creepy guy swinging his pocket watch back and forth until you bark like a dog - out of your head. I am talking about watching a five-minute hypnosis video while tucked in your bed. YouTube is full of them; search “hypnosis for sleep.” It might sound a bit of farfetched, but researchers from the universities of Zurich and Fribourg beg to differ. Their 2014 study on the subject concluded that hypnosis can actually increase the quality of sleep. Imagine that!
3. Finally, Make like an astronaut
I know I told you to put away your phone before bed but, if nothing else works, we can make an exception. Try to drown out the noise of your fighting neighbors and their barking dog with an app like Sleep Genius. Its underlying technology has been tested and used by NASA to help astronauts fall asleep. If it’s good enough for the space program, it should be good enough for you.
Your dreams are your hopes and your nightmares are your fears. If something is going to keep you up at night, let it be the fear of not following your dreams”.
All this talk about sleep as got me pretty relaxed. So before the sandman gets me to call it a day, this is Greg from Platinum Method Coaching signing off. We help people find meaning and success in their lives by aligning talents with their Passions enabling them to realize their full potential as well as fall asleep! We offer personalized coaching for career change or effecting positive change in your life. Remember, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
If you have any dreams about bringing balance back into your life, call us at (800) 217-7113. You can also email me at Greg@PlatinumMethodCoaching.com.
Until next time, remember, “The more you dream, the further you will get! So make it a great day!