People ask me a lot of questions about self-compassion, but one of my favorites involves sleep. I think that I like it because I know how prevalent an issue interrupted sleep is, and sleep deprivation, and how little support people get for its sometimes very harsh effects. When I am asked about sleep, people almost always want to know how they can get more hours of sleep? The kicker is always that they do not actually have more time in the day to sleep. They just wish they had more.
Most people cannot find more time to sleep, and the ones that can often struggle to sleep anyway. The latter group feels even more disappointed, when they schedule more hours, and reap the same benefits. Self-Compassion is about acceptance, so instead of adding more hours, we find ways to be a little more accepting to fill you with more hope, optimism, and helpful energy. A side effect to this process is that it normally increases the amount or at least the quality of sleep too. The poor sleep-better energy plan is a three-step process.
Three Steps To More Energy
Step One, acknowledge that it is not your fault that you cannot sleep or your job to make yourself sleep. Sleep is something that we come by naturally. You cannot actually force yourself to sleep, so the good news is that you are not deserving of any blame or self-criticism, when you are getting less than ideal sleep. We honor this reality when sleep is not happening or is disturbed, and because not sleeping really stinks, we find a way to comfort and be kind to ourselves. The best parents always comforted their children, who struggled to sleep, and it always worked. We are older, but evolutionarily and genetically responsive to the same efforts, even when they come from ourselves.
Step Two, Find something to do that will keep your mind just busy enough, so that you are not lost in reflection about not sleeping or tomorrow, but not so busy that it wakes you up more. No matter what time of the night or morning it is, it is not tomorrow. Tomorrow does not start until you have to be awake to manage your responsibilities. Thoughts about tomorrow can wait. Spend your time right now taking really good care of yourself. Taking the time to relax and rejuvenate, even if you are not fully asleep, will have very positive affects for tomorrow’s efforts.
Step Three, when you wake up, stick to your basic routine. A lot of people wake of after a night of disturbed sleep or prolonged insomnia, and decide that they are going to change their routine a lot to compensate for the poor sleep. This is a mistake. Your body and mind are grounded by routines, which allow them to rest easier and recover. Especially, when recovering from a poor night’s sleep, you want to be able to rely on these routines to feel well, and also to prime yourself for just another day.
More Energy And Eventually Better Sleep
If you follow these three steps, you should have more energy, and in time, will probably sleep better and longer because your worries will be balanced with self-compassion, kindness, and good self-care. Kids don’t need to not have nightmares. They just need somebody to reassure and love them, when they do to be able to rediscover restful sleep.
Your age will not change this secret. So, forget about infomercials that promise you 25 different pillows, sleep mattresses, or ways you can proactively work while other people sleep. They may be fun, but they will not be restful. What you really need is just the self-compassion to take yourself off the hook for poor sleep, and to comfort yourself with warmth, affection, and some light distraction.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 184. In The Books.