Recently I was invited to present a short talk about sleep at the Professional Speakers Association in London.
I really wanted to talk about how to overcome insomnia in practical ways and the importance of finding out what good sleep is for you, and working towards that, rather than chasing a one-size-fits ideal.
Today I want to give you a few steps to take to create the best sleep for you, factoring in your likes and your lifestyle.
As you may remember from this previous article of mine, there are 4 main areas in which sleep issues arise.
You may also remember me writing about the 7 areas of life. The one I focused on in my talk was emotions, and I did so because it’s such a big topic.
We all experience a wide range of emotions, and with trouble sleeping a really common one is frustration. But we also experience excitement, nervousness, anger, grief, and everything in between.
If you haven’t done so recently, then stop and think about how these emotions could impact your sleep every single night.
Of course, we cannot turn our emotions off.
What I want to share with you today are the 3 steps I gave to the group during my talk. These are things you can implement today.
Deal with those emotions during the day
So this is the first step, to make time and space to process any emotions before you try to sleep.
A great example of this was the talk I gave in the above video. The day before my talk I needed to take time to feel any nerves or excitement, rather than pushing it all down. I thought through the scenarios in my head; what might go well and what might go badly.
These scenarios would otherwise have been playing out in my mind as I was lying in bed trying to sleep.
When we are super busy or tired we might try to ignore or push these things down – but they never stay down! When we are in bed is the time they will pop up again, demanding our attention, if we haven’t already dealt with them.
So the ‘trick’ is to learn the habit of processing what we are feeling fully during our waking hours so that we can wind down mentally when it’s time for sleep.
Focus on practicalities, not science or stats
Many people are now using apps to track their sleep, which can lead to them overly worrying about the details.
Did I get enough REM sleep?
How many minutes did it take me to fall asleep?
The trouble is, as far as I know, this can’t be trained. We can’t teach our brain to go through the right order of sleep stages and create perfect sleep. It is much better focus on what we can control instead.
So focus on how you felt going to bed if you sleep through the night, and how you felt upon waking. The ‘trick’ is to learn the habit of processing what we are feeling fully during our waking hours so that we can wind down mentally when it’s time for sleep.
Personalise your sleep routine
Despite what all those ‘how-to’ articles say; lavender oil is not a magic cure for sleeplessness. Not everybody likes the smell of lavender either.
Being calm and comfortable in your bedroom environment is an area of sleep preparation that you can really make your own.
What scents do you like, if any?
Are you bed sheets comfortable?
Are the lighting and temperature good for your preferences?
If you just take one of these steps or suggestions on board and really use it, then you could start to see an improvement. If you do then please come back and let me know in the comments.
Remember that whatever tips you put in place, personalise it to yourself.
Challenge yourself to a better night’s sleep with Dr. Beatrix Schmidt’s 10 Day Sleep Challenge.