“If only I could get a full night of great quality sleep.” Something I hear from clients on a very regular basis. Sleeping disorders can affect as many as 7/10 adults, due, at least in part, to anxiety related thought patterns.
The odd thing is, despite the increasing prevalence of sleep dysfunction and anxiety, we appear to be running the risk of finding acceptance – and it’s anything but acceptable…
The health implications are worthy of serious consideration – whilst ironically, trying to avoid creating any further anxiety! You will know what is first to be affected by sleep deprivation from those listed below – or in addition to these. I know from personal experience it may include:
- Reduced performance and productivity at work. Concentration and creativity affected.
- Decrease in tolerance levels – perhaps leading to increased frequency of arguments.
- Relationships become challenged. Small matters become significant.
- Mind-chatter. Incessant thoughts about things requiring no thought – at that time!
- Less resilience to the effects of stress.
- Depression – or low moods.
- Addictive behaviours.
- Libido affected.
- More frequently ‘unwell’.
- Inability to ‘let go’
And these conditions become self perpetuating. The more unavailable sleep is, the more we need it. The less we achieve – the more affected we become… And trying to ‘force’ the sleep to come, further exacerbates the problem. If after about half-hour of trying to get to sleep – or more commonly getting back to sleep seems unlikely, get up!
So what’s to do?
Go to another room, grab a non-alcohol, low (or nil) caffeine drink, pick up a book, or listen to some peaceful music, watch night-time trash TV – until you feel really tired, less ‘wired’ and the monkey-mind has settled. Perhaps journal your thoughts and worries, this can really, really help!
- Think, what do I believe is getting in the way of sleep – and peace? and write down (on paper) a list of the challenges that are visiting your quiet times, and then… a list of what you are truly grateful for!
- Return to the list of challenges and put a mark against that which has something contained within it you can alter. This may be the ‘problem’ – or your thoughts about the problem.
In addition, or instead of, consider your rituals before bed:
- Are you switching off (ideally three hours before bed) from work, computer & social media and powerful, emotion provoking films or shows?
- Are you exercising in the day? If you are, this will help. Vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, unless it’s of the intimate variety 🙂 – can be too stimulating!
- Are you eating too close to sleep time? This can have a dramatic impact for some, depending on what is being eaten – and when.
- Are you consuming alcohol? Natural as this has become it’s counter-productive to good quality sleep. If you take alcohol every night, trial having two or three nights without and review for any improvement.
- Are you drinking enough non-alcohol drinks throughout the day?
- Is the bedroom uncluttered, without unnecessary electrical items, smelling pleasant and DARK?
Is the bedroom a nice place to rest? Do you know how to relax before bed?
Learn to become aware of your breathing. It can be very calming! Try to become aware of any tension in your muscles, from head-to-toes, and if found, consciously ‘let them go’. Try a five minute (or less) video review of your day – in your head, and without any judgement, of any events recalled. This can help the ‘defrag process’ the brain and mind attempts when asleep.
The above are the briefest of points which can help sleep to come. To achieve a much deeper peace, you may want to consider even a few sessions to ‘off-load’ – with an impartial ear. I have two! This can be particularly useful at times of increased pressure, or times of change; such as Christmas! The finances, the expectations, the relatives… Arrrgh!
It’s important to understand that meetings with a counsellor of any persuasion are anything but a failure – or admission of being ‘less than’. If you like, consider it your personal trainer – for your mind, your peace of mind!
Your physical health will benefit too. No sweat required! Call or write to your local ‘listener’ for an initial chat. No need to lose any more sleep over this!
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).