How did you sleep last night? Are you dog tired?
Maybe you are one of the nearly ⅔ of adults experiencing disordered sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Difficulty falling asleep, experiencing light sleep or non-restorative sleep for many nights in a row over a number of weeks. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
When we do not obtain enough sleep it affects our quality of life – you know it & feel it. It impacts our communication & performance in both work & home, our emotional well-being, clarity in thought, food preferences & our willingness to exercise. It also impacts our sense of connection, good decision making & repair of the body.
A leading cause of abnormal sleep pattern is stress.
Okay that is the obvious. How often do you find yourself with a busy mind once you put your head down on the pillow from your even busier day? Then we get worried about not getting to sleep. Worry, Anxiety, bus”y”ness releases yet more stress hormones in a response which in turn soars the mind into alarm & action.
This is the catch 22…
We wake up to the buzz of an alarm, groggy without clarity & still tired. We take stimulants – sugar, carbohydrates and caffeinated products which in turn set us up for a crash later in the day. We can get ourselves into a vicious cycle of remedies for sleep-aids & stimulants to wake up.
How you can reset?
From the Heart Math Institute, one choice is to change our dominant emotional state. Overstimulation, stress or worry creates an irregular rhythm in the heart. This is countered though by authentic emotions such as love, gratitude, appreciation, joy, compassion & peace. They have shown it lowers the stress hormones, & orders heart rhythm.
They have shown the disordered heart rhythm caused when under stressful states & can demonstrate coherent sine waves when we change our dominant emotions.
Changing our emotional tone takes practice
Prior to hitting the sack write in a journal or face yourself in a mirror to speak out loud what and who you are thankful for and what you are proud of. Do this so you really feel it. It needs to be heartfelt. Perhaps listening to coherent music, meditation, visualization or reviewing your affirmations may work.
Sending letters to people you appreciate in the early evening. This happiness for others impacts us too.
Exceedingly powerful is breathing through your nose with the exhalation slowly controlled and drawn out. Focus on this breath for a couple of minutes then with exhalation let the stress out. With inhalation let love, peace, gratitude in. Cycle this through a few times.
Put a picture in your mind of something you enjoy that is calming be it a person, place or thing – a favorite pet, a serene lake or sunset and imagine yourself in that presence. Draw upon the good emotions that picture creates for you & maintain until you feel a change in your body. It may take as little as 5 or 15 minutes.
Create a “bedtime routine”. Like with our children, we benefit from a bedtime ritual. We can train our brain & body to decompress with practice. Commit to take action on one thing for a week. Once accomplished, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then add in a new goal for the next week while keeping what you have already done.
Check in for more tips on the next blog on sleep – part II