Can’t sleep? If so, I would bet that you have some negative self-talk going on. Do any of these ring a bell?
- I won’t be able to work/exercise/(insert activity) tomorrow if I don’t sleep.
- It’s such a normal human function but somehow I can’t sleep.
- Why can’t I sleep? What’s wrong with me?
- This will never end.
- I know I won’t sleep well tonight.
- If I wake up in the middle of night, I’ll never get back to sleep.
This self-depreciating internal dialogue perpetuates chronic insomnia. You have an expectation that you will be unable to sleep so it causes you enough anxiety to not sleep.
I get it. I 100% get it because I’ve been there.
One of the cures to insomnia is changing your attitude towards sleep and rest. With chronic insomnia, it’s incredibly hard to say “tonight’s the night! I will sleep! HURRAH!” because your subconscious brain is like “hahahaha NOOOOPE”.
Here’s a quick tip if you can’t sleep
Challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with comforting ones. You have conditioned yourself to think sleep = bad.
I want you to try this:
Picture a child in your life. If you don’t have any children in your life, picture yourself as a 5 year old. In fact, if it helps, stick a picture of yourself as a 5 year old on your bathroom mirror. Think of what this 5 year old is like. They are generally playful, imaginative, and unaware of the weight of responsibility.
Now imagine that this 5 year old came to you in the middle of the night because they couldn’t sleep.
What would you say? Would you comfort them? Or would you say, “obviously you can’t sleep because you’ve failed again. You are going to fail horribly at school tomorrow because you will be so tired. Tomorrow night, you won’t sleep either”. I sure hope not.
Why are you not giving yourself the same compassion that you would give to a child? You were 5 years old once. Image your adult self comforting your 5 year old self. Tell him or her they’ll be okay.
You WILL eventually sleep. If you don’t sleep as well as you’d like, that’s OK. You can still enjoy your day. You’ve slept before, and you will again.
Be gentle with how you treat yourself. Have patience with your own mind, and you will be a lot more likely to sleep.