What are you telling yourself about sleep?
So, you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, the alarm was unwelcome and you’re about to face the day.
What are the thoughts going through your mind right now?
When I work with my clients, we look at their ‘mental chatter’. Those thoughts that race through your head at any given moment.
‘Need to buy some tomatoes, oh, and some broccoli, mustn’t forget to book the dentists appointment, don’t glare at me – how am I supposed to know you were going to step out of the door without looking, wonder where she got that coat from…’
You know the stuff.
Though it may seem pretty mindless stuff, it can actually be very powerful stuff, as this mental chatter and internal thoughts go a long way to programming your brain and how you feel.
If you are dwelling on an unpleasant situation and going over and over it again, you rapidly bring your emotions and feelings down into a negative spiral.
For example – spend a few moments thinking about the last time someone was rude to you. What did they say? What was their body language like? How did you react? How did you feel at the time? What would you do differently?
Now take a big breath and note how you feel right now. Are you angry, do you feel tension in your body, how positive or negative do you feel? Isn’t it amazing that the person is not here with you, the situation is in the past, but you still feel all those emotions.
Now, think about the last time you laughed. Was it something someone did or said? A joke you heard, or a picture you saw? Was it a comedy show on tv? Did you laugh out loud, was it a real belly laugh?
Take a big breath and note how you feel this time. Do you feel happy? How positive or negaive do you feel? How different do you feel to a moment ago when you were thinking about the other situation?
I hope you can understand what I’m getting at.
So how does this relate to sleep?
Well, picture yourself having had only 5 hours sleep. It’s the following morning, how do you feel? What emotions are going through you? The alarm goes off and what are you telling yourself? What is your ‘chatter’ saying?
Is it saying – Only 5 hours, how am I going to cope? I felt I was awake all night. How am I going to be at work? I feel so tired, I just don’t know how I’m going to get through the day?
Or is it saying – 5 hours sleep, well that’s 5 hours more than no sleep. At least I got some sleep. As I have slept, I know that I’ll get through the day because I’ve done it before. Several times in fact.
Can you see the difference between the two sets of thought patterns. If you can start to shift from the first to the second then you are on your way to changing your mindset from one of an insomniac to one of a sleeper. And that’s a step towards more sleep! You see a good sleeper doesn’t worry about how much sleep they get. If they have a poor night’s sleep (which they do) they don’t worry about it, or start obsessing about it, they know they will sleep ok the next night. When they are talking to their friends they don’t go on about a lack of sleep, in fact they probably don’t mention sleep at all, unless asked.
From my experience it was difficult to start the shift of changing my internal chatter but I persisted and soon got the idea. I monitored my thoughts and would catch myself and then started to look for the positive things about how much sleep I got. Little by little it got easier to do. I began to feel more positive about my sleep and how much I was getting. I started to notice that I didn’t feel so gloomy in the mornings, that I felt lighter. That in general my morning thoughts were more positive and I didn’t get stuck in negative thought patterns, and if started to think negatively (about anything) that I would catch myself and start thinking about more enjoyable things. Now when I wake in the morning I scan my body to see how I’m feeling and take that as my starting point rather than trying to remember if I woke in the night or not.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not leaping out of bed saying ‘Yee hah, I got 5 hours sleep last night, I’m on fire!!’ but the changes that I have made are notable. If my mental chatter does start drifting into the ‘Only 4 hours sleep mode’ I am able to quickly start reassuring myself that I will be able to cope. I also remind myself that I have been sleeping well, that this is a rare night etc.
What has been amazing is that by focusing on what sleep I am getting, rather than on what sleep I’m not, is that I am getting more sleep. It is simple ‘What you focus on expands’ and if you focus on a lack of sleep, that’s what you see and if you focus on sleep, that’s what you see.
Please try this for yourselves and note the differences in your feelings about sleep and how this impacts on how you cope with the day. Remember that this is the first step in changing your mindset, so congratulate yourself each time for doing it.
I would love to know how you are getting on either so please comment below or send me a message on facebook.
Charlotte Welply is a life coach and speaker and specializes in insomnia and other sleep difficulties. Having overcome years of insomnia herself,Charlottehas developed a passion for helping others who suffer from sleep deprivation and the effects it has on the body and lifestyle. She enjoys working with her clients helping them to achieve heir goals of a great night’s sleep. She is also able to combine her years of experience as a child carer and family worker with her life coaching skills and also works with parents in helping them to teach their children to sleep – ensuring a restful and restorative night’s sleep for all the family.
There are links on her website www.charlottewelply.com to free guided mediations and pamphlets to help you and your children sleep, as well as information on upcoming courses. You can also follow her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/charlottewelply and twitter @CharlotteWelply for tips, news and information about the world of sleep.
Till next time
Category: Guest Columnist