Using Self-Compassion To Remain Effective Even After A Sleepless Night

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation On The Body And The Mind

Self-Compassion is essential to a sleep deprived state.  From a physiological perspective, a body without or with very poor sleep is already working very hard just to stay awake, so extra stress or too much stress can have you feeling like humpty dumpty with very little effort. 

When we are tired, we also tend to ruminate more.  We understand our overworked body cognitively as anxiety, and we make rash decisions about sex and food because our body is operating in survival mode.  From an evolutionary psychology perspective, the reasoning is simple.  When we are so tired that we become very vulnerable and our bodies start to give, we need food to survive, and we need to procreate for our lineage to continue.

In the present day, we live in a work, work, work society.  As someone once wisely said, if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.  So, when we find ourselves fatigued and overwhelmed, we try to ignore these feelings, which just makes them exponentially worse.  So, anxiety turns to panic.  Panic turns to depression, and depression leads to self-medicating through alcohol or food, which leads to more depression, then shame, and finally burn out or something worse.

Choosing Self-Compassion To Manage Sleep Deprivation’s Effects

Self-Compassion gives us permission to acknowledge that there are physical and psychological effects that accompany sleep deprivation.  It also rids us of the self-criticism that comes with feeling that we should have slept, which are two of the main driving forces in taking action that leads to panic, anxiety, and depression.  Self-Compassion also allows us to name the feeling, so that we do not create a more involved, and thus more stressful story. 

Finally, the compassion and kindness we give our self frees us up to do two things well.  First, we become smart strategizers.  We accept that we are tired, and will need breaks.  Instead of spreading our energy out, we choose a couple things to focus on.  When we can rest, we do so in the best interest of our immediate and long-term health.  As you might have guessed, these decisions help us at work and in our relationships.

The Self-Compassion Recipe For Effective Work and Relationship Management

So when you wake up after a sleepless night, follow this very simple strategy.  First, Acknowledge how you feel.  Name it.  Notice that you come by it naturally, and give yourself compassion, and kindness.  Second, reduce the day’s work to a couple things to focus on.  Third, exercise if you can, it will help ground your thoughts in physical exertion, and the after effects should help with anxiety, and low lying depression.  Fourth, find time to rest whenever you can.  Fifth, make your friends or family aware, so that they can give you the kind of support you need to take care of yourself, and be good to them in the process.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 153.  In The Books.