Most of us like to go to sleep when we deem it necessary and / or it is the designated time. However, our bodies and more specifically the mind often does not get the memo. In fact, sleep deprivation can cause some of those nasty side effects people get alarmed over. While restful sleep can support your comprehension and problem-solving ability. Fatigue can make you more anxious, less kind to others and take a bite out of your confidence.
Sleep is a natural process but is not like a light switch that can be flicked on and off at will. Babies fall asleep easily but as they grow parents will say even with twins one needs more sleep. Some toddlers are ready to give up their naps much sooner than others. Maybe you were one of those children if so, it may make more sense that your sleep requirements may not be as high as others.
Some children daydream more than others or use their imagination more. I tend to think that these children, with very active brains, tend to break away from naps sooner and can find it harder to fall asleep. During the day there is always a lot of activity to keep random thoughts at bay but in the dark, you only have an open door for your imagination.
Many people become consumed with thinking about sleep or the lack there of. Much of it starts and ends with your mind. Overthinking and speculation about not being able to sleep can fuel the fire of sleepless nights, unexpected wake ups, and lead to feeling tired throughout the day.
Thoughts of sleeplessness become consuming and people watch the clock obsessed that they must get “8” hours of sleep. Their minds become active as they start to drift off and anxiously, they spur their mind into the ruts of “oh no” another sleepless night! This is when even little thoughts become magnified. Some people can function well on less sleep than 8 hours it is not a magic number. I fall asleep usually by 12 and wake at 6. One day I thought about it and found it to be only 6 hours!!! But for me that is ok. If not fully awake at 6 I may choose to go back to sleep but I do not dwell on it. If I became obsessed with the fact, that I usually only sleep 6 hours/night the anxiety created may whittle that 6 down to only 4 or 5 hours of sleep.
Today they state 7-9 hours of sleep per night is average for adults.
Web Md has a little quiz about sleep!
Everyone knows how a child may find it hard to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, or when a person is leaving on a big vacation, or maybe when they have a big presentation the next day. Your mind is stuffed full of thoughts, wishes, ideas, and often lists of what to accomplish. Stuffed full of WHAT IF scenarios. Stuffed with worry and concerns with most of it is just – SPECULATION! (the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.)
Inability to fall to sleep often starts with an overcrowded mind. There are many things out there to read on ways to combat sleeplessness, so I will not list them. Here is good article for reference from the Sleep Foundation. This article has many useful links.
But what I hear people say is – I’ve read them all nothing works, or it won’t work for me, or I doubt it will work for me, or Last time I tried – it was ineffective….
Their mind is already made up. The more you try to make yourself go to sleep the longer it takes – if your mind is dwelling on the repetitive thought I cannot sleep! you need to develop a new mindset!
DO YOU SEE THE PATTERN? Each one of those statements and so many others like them are based off a negative mindset based off ruts in your thinking. Negative mindsets WILL interfere in your getting a consistent good night’s sleep.
A BAD HABIT
People watch the clock until they fall asleep. Often, they are actively drifting to sleep but their mind forces them to look at a clock one more time and maybe one mor time after that and so on. They are convinced they did not sleep at all. Others may wake some and keep checking the clock! They start to calculate how much sleep they did not get or will not get and that alone will prevent them from falling to sleep.
I have observed many in the hospital sleeping soundly on 15 -30 min checks and I usually stand at the bedside silently observing them for resp rate, signs of discomfort or any type of distress. I often say quietly “It is just me checking on you” (so that if partially awake they will not startle. I seem to think the reassurance that I tell them this is what I do, helps) often I am in the room for 5 min or more if I am checking on IV’s, Catheters and of course you have to check their pulse especially for fresh post ops. And yes, throughout most of the night – they are really sleeping, yes snoring, mouth open …. And in the morning, they tell visitors they did not sleep a wink. Of course, it is in a hospital so maybe they feel it is just expected. When you are in a different surrounding you may or may not sleep as well.
TAKE AWAY NUGGETS
Sleeplessness if often driven by the FEAR of not being able to sleep , or fears in general that are the cause of most anxiety.
Anxiety, worry, and stress all interfere with your bodies ability to follow a pattern of wakefulness and sleep.
DO NOT LET YOUR ANXIETY ABOUT SLEEP ACTUALLY STOP YOU FROM SLEEPING.
NEXT WEEK I WILL TELL MY STORY of HOW MY RACING MIND CHANGED IN AN INSTANT!