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I have not slept very well for the past few weeks. Every station I flick onto on TV, every paper I pick up, every social media I scroll through is all just “panic”, “fear”, and “save yourself”. I am human, I am not consciously able to repel the repetition of the media. I have started to worry but get this, it is made worse because I am not sleeping! I am wired, tense, irritable, and I loudly exclaim my discontent.
I did some thinking time though last Sunday. As you know, I am well researched in the field of Health and Wellness, and it being National Sleep Awareness Week, I decided to dedicate the thought process more to my sleep issue rather than my lets-save-the-world preoccupations.
I am thinking about it, and not thinking about it. It is some unusual paradoxical existence for me right now, but I am mad cleaning the whole house, scrubbing the windows (all of them!), organizing forgotten dusty shelves (some things could sell for a good price on eBay!), and staying up late working. I am very proactive but what I am doing essentially is avoiding going to bed, knowing full well that the moment I shut my eyes my preoccupying thoughts are going to come flooding in.
The Preoccupied Thoughts
As I am not thinking about the situation the thoughts are coming in when I am not doing anything, and I am not doing anything when I am lying in bed trying to go to sleep. So I have decided to sit down for 20 minutes each day and think about my worrying thoughts. And rather than fly into worst-case scenarios, actually think of the current reality and plan what steps I can take to prevent the onset of the root of my preoccupied thoughts.
Listen to your body if your body is tired. If you don’t take a nap during the day when you need it, it will disturb your sleep at night. How is this possible? Tensions, frustrations, it makes the sleeplessness worse. Try to take a 20-minute nap during the day, even if it means cutting in on your lunch break. I know some people who drink espresso before sleeping so when they awake they are more alert.
Yeah about that espresso… coffee is a fake. As a majority, we drink coffee to give us the energy boost we were needing. Our days are too compacted with work, events, social life, family life, health, outdoors, favors. Let’s drink a coffee or an energy drink to pick us up! No, these beverages will only bring you down lower after the promised boost, can make you irritable, and yes, disturb your sleep habits. Try a green tea for long-lasting energy and eat more whole grain carbohydrates for natural slow-releasing energy.
What is your prime source of information? Well, for me for many years it was FaceBook. It was new, I was on it every day, everybody else was on it every day and I am generally a good-hearted person who believes that people speak the truth when speaking to me. This is where social media gets confusing. It begins as being a digital community of your friends but then it broadens to include your interests, support your local groups, like your favorite Netflix series. We are unconsciously deceiving ourselves into believing what we read online because it is our own personal digital community. I advise researching for real news sources, create google alerts, speak to your doctor if your concern is medical.
It’s crazy how well this works. Turn off the wifi, your cell data, unplug the TV and radio. Stay in-home or go outdoors, alone or with your family - the idea is to completely free yourself from constant-connection. We are almost obliged to respond immediately to messages sent across 7 different platforms, in fact, people can see when we were last online if we read their messages. And worse, people connected to their work email away from work open their emails, therefore, still working on their weekend. Turn it all off and you will sleep so well!
We are each of us different. Whether you can commit to a digital detox or not, these limitations should be put in place to keep your mind relaxed and stress-free for at least a few hours during the day:
- No phones or TV until after breakfast: enjoy your morning. The part of the day that dictates your humor does not need negativity, stress, panic, worry, you get me. Enjoy your porridge and fresh juice, you deserve it!
- No phones while eating with family or friends, bring a book if you are on your own. I think it was in Spain where they first introduced the game where the first person who reaches for their phone pays the whole bill. I like it! A live social experience, take advantage of it, whats online will still be online later.
- Scroll only when on the loo. Make your toilet break the time to check in on your digital life. Spending an extra 2 minutes on the loo is much better than standing there with your face stuck in your phone and your kids are running around you.
- Read before bed. Pick up a book, a newspaper, a magazine and read it. The blue light emitted from our smartphones disrupts sleep. Whatever you do make sure your cell is not the last thing you look at before bed.
- Turn off wifi and cell data at night. Kinda like how we shouldn’t stand too close to a microwave when it's on I don’t like internet waves flowing through the house when noone is actually using it. I could be just paranoid but it also prevents the dings of notifications coming in and interrupting your sleep. With that, you should at least turn off your cell data!
- Ban cells from your bedroom. In fact, just leave your cell at the door! It may even help you get out of bed quicker in the morning.. You will sleep much better. You should have zero obligations during the night time while sleeping, and if there is an emergency, it will be connected to your actual cell number anyway and not any of your online profiles.
Do you have any ideas to share on getting better sleep? Please share it below! Otherwise, I hope this helps you. To a more fulfilled, deeper, slumber.