Hello and welcome back to The Head Trash Show. This is your host, Alexia Leachman, thank you so much for joining me today.
Now on today’s podcast, I’m going to be talking all about sleep stress. Have you got sleep stress? Now we often hear about how stress affects our sleep, but not necessarily how sleep affects our stress, and particularly how I think it creates stress. So that’s why I’m calling this sleep stress. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
Because I think sleep can be very, very stressful, or at least it begins to get stressful when you’re not having any, right. So when you’re lying there awake, you’re already stressed and then you can’t sleep, then you’re just going to get even more stress. So sleep does add to your stress if you’re not careful. And I think there are ways that we can reduce this, there are ways that we can deal with sleep stress, I have used the head track clearance method loads, to get rid of the things that are affecting my ability to sleep and the way that sleep itself does affect me and the way that it stresses me out.
And that’s what I want to talk about today, helping you to understand what it is about sleep that could be stressing you out and how you can work on that so that you can reduce the amount of stress you get given by sleep itself. How does that sound? You ready?
Sometimes when I’m lying in bed and I can’t sleep, it’s not long before I’m thinking things like,
- Why am I still awake?
- I’m really tired.
- I should be asleep by now.
- Why can’t I fall asleep?
- What’s going on? I don’t feel stressed. But yes, I’m not falling asleep.
- Am I too hot? Am I too cold?
- If I don’t want to sleep soon that I’m not gonna get my seven hours, and then what’s going to happen tomorrow is going to be a nightmare.
- What time is it again?
These kind of these stressful thoughts just keep going round and round. And if you’re not careful, then you just set yourself up for a really bad night’s sleep. And so the trick is here is to really nip these thoughts in the bud, and to stop having this impact on your sleep. And this is why I call this sleep stress because I really think that these thoughts that we’re having, specifically around our sleep can really be part of the problem. And so what we really need to do is try to eliminate them from being part of the problem, right?
So what is sleep stress?
Let me just explain a little bit more about what I think sleep stress is. So I think of sleep stress being the emotional tangle that we get ourselves into, over not being able to fall asleep it is all those repeated thoughts about, you know, why am I still awake? What time is it again?
And the thing is, once you do start thinking those thoughts, it does become a bit of a slippery slope. Now sleep is a thing for you or it sleep is a worry for you that I have got other episodes where I’ve spoken to sleep experts all about sleep. So do look out for the episode when I spoke to Chel Hamilton and Keri Nola because we really do dive into sleep into quite some depth here. But the bit that we didn’t talk about on this podcast, which I want to talk about today, is the emotional aspects of sleep. I think that’s another dimension of having better sleep and be able to create a situation where you are more able to fall asleep easily and have better quality sleep.
I think that’s what we could all do with. You’re never far away from news stories telling us how we’re sleeping much less today than we used to and how it’s impacting us and how the knock on effects of no having enough sleep is leading to physical conditions and diseases taking root. And really what we all need is a good night’s sleep. So hopefully this podcast will help you to ultimately achieve a good night’s sleep.
Okay, so help us start tackling sleep stress, I have given this a lot of thought. And I’ve given this a lot of thought mainly in my bed like awake at night.
I’ve identified four key themes that I believe are the main culprits of sleep stress. So I’m going to talk you through these four key things. And then I’m going to finish off with some tips on how if you want to how you can use the Head Trash Clearance Method as a method by it outlined in my book on how you can address some of these key things I’m sharing with you today. Of course, other methods are available, but obviously, I’m going to be talking about the Head Trash Clearance Method at the end. So if you’ve read the book, then stick around because then you can then go on and crack on with your sleep stress issues and go on top. A great night’s sleep.
1. Not being able to fall asleep
Okay, so the first one then is not being able to fall asleep in the first place. So this is where you go to bed, and you just simply can’t fall asleep. And then the longer you lie that the more annoyed you get by not sleeping. And so this really is one of those situations that can just easily spiral out of control. And I think this is a classic in the out of the four that I’m going to share with you because it’s something that affects us all, from time to time. And I think maybe some of us get it all the time. Now, there could be a number of reasons that it is happening to you, especially if it is happening all the time. So things like chemical imbalance or maybe you’re too hot or too cold, your room is not right or maybe you have too much iPad action late at night or you’ve watched a scary movie not long before going to bed, and any of those things if that’s part of your your ritual in your life, things that you do, then you would definitely benefit from looking at your sleep ritual.
If you want to find out more about asleep ritual Keri Nola is a really great podcast to listen to. But also my chat with with Chel Hamilton. She also talks about things like the sugar imbalance and how that could really be affecting your ability to go to sleep in terms of the nutritional stuff that’s going on in your body, what you’re eating for dinner, and how that might play out in terms of your ability to fall asleep. So I’m not going to be talking about that as part of this podcast, but I have spoken on those topics with it about guests.
Now the one thing that I’m really clear on and what I think pretty certain is that you need to, you know, when you’re having these thoughts coming into your mind when you’re trying to get to sleep is the first thing you need to do really, is to just make peace with whatever is happening to you and let that go. Now I realise that that is much easier said than done. But sometimes just the simple awareness about this very thing can be enough to help you to just make that shift, which is why I just want to really make that really clear.
When you’re lying there awake and you can’t go to sleep is just to be okay with that rather than getting annoyed about it because it’s not getting annoyed, that is actually driving the stress up. If you can lie there and accept it, you’re much more able to remain calm, which is what you need to be to go back to sleep or to go to sleep right?
If you can’t go to sleep, there might be a very clear reason why you can’t go to sleep. Now there could be things that are troubling you in your life that you really can’t stop thinking about, you maybe have got some very real stresses going on that are really taking up a lot of headspace. And so that could be what’s going on for you.
But maybe if there’s a consistent pattern where you’re never really able to get sleep, and you’re not able to identify anything obvious that’s going on for you, then there could be something else going on, which might be this. And it’s that you simply don’t feel safe enough to fall asleep. The body is unlikely to allow you to fall asleep. If it feels threatened in some way. Maybe you have an unresolved trauma from an early part of your life where maybe you’re life was threatened and you haven’t resolved this trauma.
So even though you’re not conscious of it today, or you don’t think about it regularly. It’s there, your subconscious is very much aware of it. So think about times in your life that maybe there may have been a situation like that. And perhaps it is worth seeking some help to clear that trauma out of your subconscious so that you are finally able to kind of feel safe in your own home, feel safe in your own bed, and therefore fall asleep. Now, these situations, these trauma events that may have happened in your life may have happened before you have a conscious memory of it.
So you might be sort of sitting there listening to me going, “Well, I can’t think of anything like this, what’s going on? I can’t think of anything” that maybe happened when you’re a young child. And, and you just simply don’t have a conscious recollection of that. So find somebody that you can work with on. Oftentimes, you can clear a trauma like this, right, you know, very quickly in one session, and that might be all you need. There might be more than so you might need more sessions, but that might be a good place to start.
If you’re finding that you simply can’t go to sleep, and it’s very much a permanent thing for you, you can’t, you just never seem to go see you’re always turning to tablets to take to help you sleep. So that might be something’s going on for you. So that’s, that’s that’s thing about not being able to fall asleep in the first place. And the very first thing is really just to sort of accept what is going on, and to let it go. Again, easier said than done, but I’m going to talk about how you can do that later on. So don’t go too far.
Are noises keeping you awake?
The second thing is noises. Now, oftentimes, we don’t fall asleep because there’s noise going on, maybe outside the bedroom in the street, so maybe you can hear the neighbours TV or their music playing. Maybe there are people sitting outside your house chatting really late or there are some people coming home from a bar being very drunk in the street, maybe there’s a house alarm, or somebody’s car, they’re just sitting out on the street waiting for somebody and they would they’d turn their engine off. Maybe there’s some cats fighting.
All of these things could be going on and you can be hearing them and getting very annoyed about these noises. But the thing is, I think it’s important to bear in mind that we can we have a lot of emotional energy around noises, we get very annoyed by them, as opposed to noises that you hear that you don’t get annoyed by. So for example, when birds are tweeting outside, or the wind’s blowing, we’re very unlikely to get really annoyed by the birds or by the wind. But we might get very annoyed by somebody who’s leaving their car running or playing their music too loud. And so there are certain noises that do create an emotional reaction in ourselves. And I think that’s the key is if there is a noise that’s creating that you’re annoyed about that you don’t like, then there’s an opportunity there to do some clearance work on the noise so that you can, you’re less annoyed about it and it because it’s the annoyance that you have about it. That’s, that’s making it come into your awareness.
Because you don’t get annoyed by birdsong. You don’t often notice that the birds are singing, whereas suddenly when you sort of take a moment you sit back and hear the birds singing and think “Oh, that’s lovely”. And then you realise they’ve been tweeting the whole time and, and actually, you just didn’t notice it before. And that’s where you want to get to when you’re trying to get sleep. You want to get to a place where the noises are happening, and you’re not noticing them so that you can get sleep, right.
So think about the noises that are happening, maybe make a note of them and then later on, I’ll share how you can start working on clearing the emotional energy around this. Now you might think that’s never gonna work But I have worked with somebody who had tinnitus, and it was really bad. They really hated having it. What I’m not suggesting here is you can get rid of tinnitus by doing your emotional clearance work. But by working on the emotional response to tinnitus, they simply didn’t notice it as much in their lives. In fact, they thought it had gone but it hadn’t. They just weren’t noticing the noise and that’s because we got rid of the emotional energy around it.
So if somebody with tinnitus can notice a massive difference in the quality of their lives, and I think in terms of noises that might be keeping you awake, you too could enjoy seeing a big difference in that aspect of your life.
Waking in the middle of the night
This is when you wake up in the middle of the night, or maybe when you wake up too early, and then you spend a load of time stressing about how you’re running out of time to get back to sleep. So if this is happening to you, it could be down to a blood sugar drop, especially if it’s happening consistently. So check out the episode that I did this Chel Hamilton because she dives into this in a lot more detail I’m going to right now.
If you are waking up in the middle of the night, the first thing that I would recommend that you do is to not look at a clock, make sure that all all tools that can tell you the time well hidden that you can’t accidentally see them. You can’t find out that piece of information because that piece of information is enough to get you going and to get you annoyed and to start making you think about you know, putting judgments on that information and extrapolating meaning from that. So for example, if you wake up and it’s three o’clock you’re like “oh my goodness, I’ve got to get up at seven, I’ve only got four hours left, this is terrible. If I don’t get that sleep now, that means I only have three hours sleep…” And suddenly the mental loop stops, right?
You’re not able to start this if you don’t know the time. That doesn’t start and you’re much more able to get back to sleep at that point. So always hide, hide your clock, don’t have a clock that you can see in your sleep. Make sure that anything, your watch, there’s no glow in the dark clocks, all of that stuff, hide it or you do not need to know the time as long as you have an alarm set and you can trust that it will go off. You don’t need to take the time while you’re in the middle of the night trying to get to sleep because it just won’t help you at all.
Now I want to go back to my earlier point I made about just accepting, letting go that you are waking up like this and the middle the night. There is many times and I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and I’ve thought “okay, well this is nice. I can it’s peaceful and I started thinking about things” and thought about work project I’ve had on, or I’ve had ideas for podcast episodes and blog posts and, and I’m able to really kind of think them through in a way that I’ve not felt pressured or there was no effort involved. It was just kind of tumbling into my mind as like,”Oh my God, that’s a good idea!”. And I get my phone out and start making lots of notes and I end up like knocking something out.
I think I sometimes I’ve got some of my best work done in the middle of the night. And it’s really helped me because I know where there have been times when I’ve been at my desk trying to do the same task example. And it’s been a real effort. I’ve had to make an effort with something like for example, the podcast episode I might need to my apartment, okay, what am I going to talk about have to think it through and really pleased doing it with effort. Whereas in the middle of the night, when I’m doing it, I don’t, there’s no effort. It’s just falling into my head. And I’m like, I can’t write down quick enough the thoughts. I literally can’t write things down quick enough.
And so now when I wake up in the middle of night, I feel always grateful for the moment of peace of quiet and stillness. And for me to be able to think in a very different way. Now because are very close to the sleep state you’re accessing a different way of thinking and so it can really unleash very creative ideas, things that maybe you can solve in that state that you wouldn’t be able to solve in your waking state in the day. So when I wake up in the night now I find it much easier to let go of this “oh my goodness, it’s it’s the middle of the night. I’m losing sleep” to shift to “Oh, so maybe I could do x y, or z, maybe I could solve this thing that’s that I’m wrestling with”.
And that really helps me. I get something done that was on my list anyway. And I’m ready to go when I get to my desk in the morning. But also I’m making good use of my time I’m not getting stressed. And when I have done the thing when I have finished, all the sorts have come out that I do get to sleep much more quickly. If I didn’t, I’d have been lying there the whole time getting really stressed about being awake, debating with myself whether I’m not gonna be able to cope with this amount of sleep that I’m not gonna be able to have now, then I wouldn’t be able to go back so easily to sleep. I’m very, very sure of that.
Appreciate that you’re having a moment of stillness and calmness in the middle of the night. Maybe welcome those creative thoughts that are coming in, jot them down so that you’re not stressing about forgetting them in the morning, you know, you want to try and do things that are not going to add to your stress. So it means you can just get a notebook out, quickly scribble stuff down, put it down, and then you think, “hey, that’s really cool, I feel really good having done that”.
Then try it, it might be really good for you. So um, but let’s say you find that really hard and you are stressing about, you know, you normally get you seven hours and now you might not get your seven hours, then that can really, really, really stress you out. And this leads me on to my sort of fourth point which is worrying about not getting your sleep allowance.
Not getting your sleep allowance
I think thanks to the press and the articles that we see coming out saying, oh you know we need a seven hours sleep. We need eight hours. We need this our sleep. And we might have a belief that says, “I only function well, if I’ve had my seven hours”. And so if we, if there’s any threat to that seven hours sleep, we then start going, “Oh, well, I’m not going to function. Well, it’s going to be a terrible day, I’m going to look tired, I’m gonna be exhausted, I won’t be able to think straight. I’ll be ratty all day”.
We tell ourselves how it’s going to be if we don’t get enough sleep. The subconscious is a very powerful thing, and it tends to deliver what we desire. So if we’re laying in bed, giving ourselves orders, saying, “If I don’t get my seven hours, I will not function. I will look terrible. I will have a really bad day”, then guess what’s going to happen when you wake up without your seven hours sleep? You’re going to look really terrible. You’re going to be really ratty and you’re not going to function. Because lo and behold, your subconscious is delivering exactly what you ordered.
So the first thing you need to do when you do stress about not getting your allowance is not stress about it is not saying to yourself, “oh my goodness, I’m going to be ratty. It’s just to say. So, “hey, tomorrow’s gonna be a great day, I’m going to be super focused, I’m going to have less capacity to deal with nonsense, which means I’m just going to focus on the heart of the thing that I’m working on. I’m not going to let anybody distract me because I haven’t got the ability to be able to withstand that distraction. So I’m just going to be super, super focused. And I’m just going to get on with what I need to do.”
Try it because when I tried this out one time, it was an absolute revelation to me, a total revelation, I realised that actually, I could quite easily function on four hours sleep. By the time I got to the evening, I was struggling, and then I knew I needed an early night. But throughout the day, I did not suffer at all. In fact, I didn’t look tired. And I was doing really, really well. I just sort of ran out of steam sooner than I would have done on my full seven hours.
So it’s remarkable what you can achieve by simply changing what you’re saying to yourself in your head. And I would recommend that you try changing the orders that you’re giving yourself while you can’t sleep. I admit that now if I have two nights, when I’ve had four hours sleep on both nights, after two nights, it does become a bit of a struggle. And so after two nights like that, I really do have to have an early night. But it’s not as bad as I imagined it would be, before I started changing how I was talking to myself about my lack of sleep.
So do not stress about your sleep allowance, do not worry that it’s going to have this massive impact on your day. Because you’ll be surprised when you realise that it might not. And actually, there’s no need for you to worry about that.
And so if you go through the process of what I’ve just been talking about here is you know, identifying some these noises that might be keeping away appreciating that you are awake in the middle of the night and maybe being grateful for the moment of different thinking that you’re able to access that moment in time. Then all of these things together can help you to really reduce that stress. That lack of sleep can bring you while you’re experiencing it, which means that when it is happening like hey, I’m going to use this, and that actually tomorrow is going to be fine. Anyway, I’ll make use of this, it means that when I get to my desk, I can get something done really quickly, because I’ve already thought it through, and I’m going to be fine, I’ll just have an early night. And suddenly, all of that stress that you were having suddenly dissipates, because you’re able to just manage all of that situation very, very differently because you’ve taken the emotion out of it.
Clearing the sleep stress
So let me talk a little bit more about how you can clear the sleep stress them. So I’m referring to clearing this using the head trash clearance method, which is outlined in my book Clear Your Head Trash. So if you have a copy of the book, even if you haven’t, then you can make some notes for when you do acquire a copy of the book.
But basically, if you think about the noises, for example, think about the noises that are keeping you awake. So maybe dogs barking, my neighbour’s music, then write those things down and you can work through the method using those exact things. The thing with people leave their music playing really loud, that that’s how that suggests that maybe they’re being selfish. And so therefore, you might be triggered by the fact that they’re being selfish that you would never do such a thing. And so if there are situations like that, then it might be that you need to work on people being selfish as well. Because this is them being selfish and how they’re not respecting your need for sleep. And so maybe you need to work on things like selfishness and respect because of other people’s behaviour and how their behaviour is annoying you and stressing you when you’re trying to get to sleep. So there might be some interesting things you to add to your list if that is what’s going on for you.
But also think about those things that are keeping you awake at night. So if there are things that you’re worried about, then definitely think about adding those to your head trash clearance to do list as well because then you can clear them then you can work on them. I used to when I was going through a very intense period of head trash clearance, I would do a lot of clearance work last night. So the things that were if I was going to bed and I thought oh, this is kind of worrying me. I’ve got this it’s going on for me, then I would use that moment of time 45 minutes before bed to do a clearance so not only would I be getting rid of the emotional aspect of whatever was bothering me in my life at that moment, but the act of doing clearance is actually very calming. And I would sort of get into more sleepy state.
Sometimes when you do clearances, you actually feel very tired very quickly. So it could actually help you to get to sleep just because you get exhausted. So it could be a very good thing to add to your weekly evening ritual is to plan to do some head trash clearance, just before you go to bed to help you to get into a much calmer state so that you’re more able to go to sleep.
So that is how I would recommend that you help yourself to improve the quality of your sleep and get rid of sleep stress from your life.
Now if you do follow any of the things I recommend in today’s podcast episode, I would love to find out how you get on. But also if you’ve got other ways that you use to help you get to sleep and improve your quality of sleep and reduce the stress that you get from lack of sleep, then I’d be interested in that too. Because, yeah, there’s lots of ways out there and I’m always curious To be able to share with my clients other ways that they can improve the quality of their sleep, and have and be more emotionally in a good place when they wake up because when we are tired, it does really affect our ability to be more resilient. And ultimately, that’s what I want to help people to be as nimble, emotionally resilient. So any tips I’m more than happy to hear them. So I hope that today’s episode has been useful for you. If you have any questions, you know to find me at clear your head trash.com Bye for now.