Updated: Mar 15, 2022
There are many people who are finding getting to sleep and staying asleep more and more difficult. In order to perform at our best we need to have a decent amount of Zzz’s. Pressure is higher in our daily lives and we are looking for more and more ways to help ourselves drift off.
I have been working with several people who have had disturbed sleep as their Executive Coach and I thought it would be useful to share some useful facts, techniques and questions you can ask yourself to help you drop off to the lovely land of nod!
Alcohol has been used as a form of self medicating to get to sleep. A recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine here found that 68% of Americans lost sleep due to drinking alcohol past bedtime. A study here shows that alcohol causes very significant changes in cardiovascular function when consumed before bed. It also affects other physiological functioning which can significantly decrease the quality of sleep you have. A comprehensive overview of sleep and alcohol can be found here on the Sleep Foundation website. Basically, alcohol can appear to help you get to sleep, but the low quality of sleep you obtain means that this is far more damaging than trying some of the techniques below for true relaxation.
The traditional solutions such as cutting out alcohol, cutting out smoking and screen time an hour before bed can work well for some people. What else has been working for my clients?
Start Noticing Patterns
Is there something that happens when you realise you are not going to drop off? What are you thinking? Is there a noise? Movement? Anything which repetitively triggers you to suddenly become alert? Notice this, acknowledge this and in some cases people like to write it down to remember it. You can then start to work on whatever it is which can start helping you to move forward to a peaceful night sleep.
What Do You Need To Let Go Of?
Is there something you just need to let go of at that moment? Maybe screen time at night? Maybe a partner is waking you and you need more space or some sleeping time apart? Maybe you need to ensure that work is switched off an hour before bed and you do something else. Can you set yourself a strict rule which you will follow? Let go of that one thing which may be affecting your sleep. When you are tempted to break your rule make sure you ask yourself the question “How important is it compared to getting those extra hours of sleep time?”
A study here in 2015 showed significant increases in sleep quality in adults with sleep disturbances who practice mindfulness. Lie in bed, completely relax head to toe, every muscle in your head, face, body to your toes. Then count your breath from 1-10 then backwards 10-1. When your mind wanders that’s ok, bring it back to relaxation and count your breath. This will give you at the very least, time for your brain and body to go into total relaxation if not complete sleep. Many of my clients drop off during this!
Run You Day Backwards
Another form of mindfulness. Run your day backwards. In detail. Paying attention to every action you carried out from the moment you lay down. Many people find that they quite often do not get beyond an hour before they fall peacefully to sleep!
Take A Journey To Another Place
For animal lovers. Lie in bed and imagine you are in the countryside or a farm or zoo and yet all the animals and everything around you is a different colour. You are stroking a purple horse, or petting a blue pig. You are seeing red and purple zebras. Imagining every detail and feeling can help you feel relaxed and drop off to sleep.
There is no one way for everyone to get to sleep. Understanding why, noticing patterns and then making that choice to relax completely when you are going to bed and lying down, and even planning before, is the first step towards significant change.
If you would like to speak to someone about coaching through insomnia connect with us at caroline@successCL.com
Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of recruitersgiveback.org a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com www.recruitersgiveback.org