Have you got sleep stress? We often hear about how stress affects our sleep, but not always about how sleep affects our stress. As in, how sleep CREATES stress! You know, SLEEP STRESS!
Yes, you read that right; sleep is stressful. Which when you’re already stressed and can’t sleep, isn’t exactly good news. The thing is as you lie in bed awake waiting for sleep to take over, your mind racing with stressful thoughts about your stressful life, it’s not long before your thoughts turn to sleep;
- why am I still awake?
- why can’t I fall asleep?
- what if I don’t fall asleep soon, then I won’t get my 7 hours and then I’ll never be able to function!
- what time is it again?
This is what we call sleep stress. Like we needed another kind of stress in our lives!
What is sleep stress?
When I think of sleep stress I think of the emotional tangle we get ourselves into all over not being able to fall asleep. The thing is, once we get sucked into these thoughts it’s a slippery slope.
If you’ve listened to the other podcasts I did recently on sleep, when I spoke to sleep experts Chel Hamilton and Keri Nola, there was one thing that they both mentioned and it was this
Do not judge what is happening to you, just accept and go with it.
Ha! Easier said than done right?
So on today’s podcast, I want to dig a bit deeper into sleep stress so that we can better understand the emotional aspects, which in turn should help us to tackle it. Are you up for that?
Now, I’ve given this a lot of thought… nights of lying awake has given me plenty of time! And I’ve identified 4 key themes that I believe are the main culprits of sleep stress.
1. Not being able to fall asleep…
… and then getting more and more annoyed by not sleeping. This is a classic that affects us all from time to time (if not for some of us ALL THE TIME!). Now there might be a number of reasons it’s happening to us – chemical imbalance, too hot/cold, too much iPad action, too much fear-based late night TV. Alot of these are discussed in my other podcasts so if you want to find out more about what you need to address in your life, listen to my chat with Chel while Keri’s podcast is great to listen to if you want to create a more effective sleep ritual.
But, one thing is certain – you need to make peace with whatever is happening to you and just let go.
Now, for some there may be a very clear reason why they can’t sleep and it’s this: they don’t feel safe enough to. Our body will only let us fall asleep if it thinks we’re not in danger. So, if you’ve had a traumatic experience in your life, maybe this is impacting on your ability to fall asleep. If you can make peace with your trauma and restore your feelings of being safe, then this could unlock your ability to fall asleep with ease.
2. Getting stressed by noises that keep you awake
This is a bit like #1 except here there are actual noises that you’re hooking onto when you hear them. As with thoughts, you need to just let them pass and not reach out, jump on them and travel around the room with them. If you can hear them and just not care, that would make things much easier to fall asleep – don’t you think? The important difference here is how you feel about the noise.
3. Waking up in the middle of the night, or waking up too early…
…and then stressing how you’re running out of time to get back to sleep. If this is happening to you, then it could be down to a blood sugar drop. Chel talks about this in the chat I had with her so look to address that bit first before tackling the emotional aspects.
Get your head in a tangle once you’re awake though is not going to help. Especially if you’re clock watching. Get rid of any easy ways of seeing the time from your bed. It really doesn’t matter what time it is. As long as you have an alarm to wake you up, knowing the time can only mean trouble for you. Especially if you’re stressing about the next one…
4. Worrying about not getting your sleep allowance
This is the amount of sleep you believe you need to sleep well or get enough sleep. I’m sure we all have an idea as to how much sleep we think we need to feel rested and refreshed. And if we’re not sure, then the media will always be too happy to help us figure it out. Only recently there was another piece of research out telling us how much sleep we need. The thing is this is an average figure and often it’s not necessary that we need that amount EVERY night. But if we’re stressing about how much we believe we need, and what happens if we DON’T get it, then sleep stress is going to win!
How to clear sleep stress
Well, it’s simple… first, you have to identify which of the key themes is affecting you and then do a bit of digging. You dig until you can list out your sleep stress head trash.
Then clear each piece of sleep stress head trash using the Head Trash Clearance Method. You can discover how to do this in my book, Clear Your Head Trash which you can buy on Amazon here.
If you’d like to check out the transcript for this podcast episode, then head over here.
Listen to these sleep podcasts too
Here are the other podcasts I mentioned on sleep that you might want to listen to as well.