How to Let Go for Better Sleep by Jessica Green
Do you have trouble sleeping? Sleep deprivation is as bad for your health as smoking. Not getting your zzz’s can make you feel (and look) like a zombie. Your memory suffers, your libido suffers and your mood goes downhill quickly. Your body doesn’t detox like it should and your cells don’t go into repair mode so you age more quickly.
There is a smaller percentage of people who chose to go to bed late and wake up early. But the vast majority suffer from sleep deprivation because they either can’t fall asleep or they wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep.
Why does this happen?
Have you even had a stressful event that you just couldn’t stop thinking about? Maybe it’s what your parter said or what your boss did? Perhaps its just being cut off in traffic? You may be replaying what happened in your mind. Perhaps you’re dwelling on the injustice of it or what you should have said or done in that moment. It’s one thing to reflect on a situation but for some of us it can turn into a continuous loop in our mind keeping us from being in the present or letting go.
This is completely natural for us to want to make sense of what happened and it can be irrisistible. Maybe you start to replay scenarios in your mind about different outcomes. It can be like watching a binge worthy Netflix show.
When we ruminate on something over the course of the days or weeks we create stress in our body as though it were happening right now in the present which raises cortisol levels throughout the day making it difficult to sleep.
Ruminations can also lead to negative emotions, self-sabotaging behavior (like binge eating) and even hypertention.
What does your day usually look like? Do you have a to do list that’s a mile long and people in your life who keep adding to it? You dream one day of being able to clone yourself or hire a personal assistant, chef, cleaning crew, virtual assistant and nanny just so you can have a little time for yourself.
This is enough to wake up anyone in the middle of the night with stress dreams about accidentally sleeping through the alarm clock and missing that important meeting, getting the kids ready for home schooling or just losing out on time you need to finish that deadline.
This constant state of stress by overwhelm is enough to raise your cortisol levels throughout the day making it hard to relax and sleep.
How to Sleep Again
Letting Go of Ruminations
Give yourself an hour to ruminate on a stressful situation. If the stressful event is something that needs corrective action like a chat with a higher up or a sit down with a spouse. Then schedule that as soon as possible. If not, then thank it for what it was, a learning experience, and let it go. Put it behind you as quickly as possible.
Practice being in the present. It’s not enough to let go of a negative or stressful event. To really put yourself at ease, take it one step further by coming back to the present. Some of my favorite tips are to meditate daily for 5 or 10 minutes using an app like Headspace and using a rubber band on your wrist to snap every time you notice your mind drifting from what you’re doing. The more you do these, the more your mind will stay in the present.
Letting Go of Overwhelm
Let’s face it, your to do list probably needs to be shortened to start with. Take a look at the to do list and determine it’s important and urgent, important and not urgent, not important and urgent and not important and not urgent. Ditch the last two for now or put them on a “future” list just as a hold. With the remaining two categories, do a review. Is it true that these are important to do items? Can any be delegated to a spouse, your kids, a colleague or a virtual assistant?
Never have more than three top things to accomplish each day. Be honest with yourself too, what do you think you can actually accomplish? Don’t set yourself up for failure by having a do to list you won’t be able to complete by the end of the day.
Now that you’ve done that, add one thing you’ll do just for yourself that day. It might be adding a face mask to your morning routine, waking up a few minutes early to do a meditation or gratitude practice. Plan for one bigger thing each week. I love massages, facials, hikes and going out with my family on a canoe in the harbor. Find something that will fill you up so you can give as much as you need to during the rest of the week.
Finally, keep a note pad at your desk. Before bed, write down three things that you’re grateful for that day. These might be things that went well or little things that you noticed you’re grateful for like the changing leaves. Next if anything pops into your head of something you need to do tomorrow, just jot them down quickly on another sheet so you can rip it off and add it to your planner the next morning.
When you sleep well, you are more present for everyone in your life including yourself. Your mood improves, it’s easier to keep up with healthy habits and you’ll feel like you again.
What will you start doing today to help you get your sleep back on track?
Need some additional support? Be sure to also check out my Sleep Makeover program beginning November 11th! Registration closes November 4th!
Jessica Green is an Integrative Health Practitioner and Health Coach. She's also a staff member here at WILLOWTREE. To learn more about her and how to work with her, go to www.jessicagreenwellness.com.