Have you really thought about sleep and how wonderful it is? Too many of us stress over sleep, either not getting enough, not being able to fall asleep, waking up too early or not sleeping through the night. It’s no wonder so many people wish they didn’t have to sleep at all! “Sometimes it feels like it’s more hassle than it’s worth,” a gentleman told us in an email. It’s time to reconsider sleep as a positive part of our day.
Putting pressure on your mind and body to get a good night’s sleep, by hook or by crook is counterintuitive to, well, getting a good night’s sleep! Remember that we naturally need sleep, no matter what and that inevitably, we will sleep. Forcing the issue is unhelpful.
Embracing sleep as love for yourself
We hear from a lot of people who say they can’t simply ‘be’ at bedtime. “I don’t like being alone with my thoughts,” they’ll say. One lady recently said, “I have too much energy, it feels silly just lying there with nothing to do.” Another commented that sleep feels like a great waste of time.
Sleep is when your body does its best healing work. Any injuries, surgeries, illnesses and so on heal far better with sleep. With that in mind, remember that you’re not going to bed begrudgingly; you’re doing your body a world of good when you stop, rest and relax. Sleep is absolutely not a waste of time. It’s a basic life essential, just like water, breathing and eating.
Honour your body by viewing sleep as something you do because you love yourself and you love your body. Instead of thinking of sleep as a burden, a nuisance or a chore, think of it as a way to become stronger, mentally and physically so that you can face the new day with energy, clarity and pleasure.
Step outside of yourself for a minute
Your mind and body work extremely hard for you all day long. Visualise them as people you care about. They look tired, haggard, worn out, depleted, done. If your mind and body were people you cared about, would you force them to go without sleep? Would you crack the whip and demand they soldiered on? Or would you lovingly put them to bed, tuck them in and wish them sweet dreams?
You don’t just need sleep, you deserve it.
Flipping to a luxury mindset
Learning to love and embrace sleep takes time and practise. A luxury mindset is a lovely way to ease into it. Do you remember the last time you went on holiday and felt truly at peace? Maybe, for you, it’s a 5-star hotel stay with gorgeous, cool sheets, huge, plump pillows and block-out curtains. Or perhaps it’s drifting off under the stars in a sleeping bag. What is your concept of a luxury sleep experience? How can you recreate that at home? It might entail a sleep sounds app, aromatherapy essential oils, buying new bed linen, installing block-out curtains or simply rearranging your bed so you can gaze out the window at the stars each night.
Practise box breathing
Inhale slowly through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds then exhale slowly through your mouth for five seconds. Do this for as long as you feel like doing it. If you still feel like you’re unable to fall asleep, do it again, but this time, imagine that the air filling your lungs is a gentle sleeping gas.
Holding the breath allows CO2 to build up in your blood. This produces a cardio-inhibitory response in the vagus nerve which runs from the brainstem to the colon. As you breathe out, it stimulates your parasympathetic system which produces calm and relaxation in your mind and body.
Most people find box breathing to be surprisingly helpful but if you don’t conquer it early on, keep practising it.
Above all, remember how important sleep is to your body, mind and overall wellbeing. Stop feeling challenged by it and relegating it to another ‘must-do’ in your busy day. Embrace sleep as something you’re entitled to and must have for you to fire up and hit the ground running each day.