How to handle sleep problems
- Do you feel that you’re not getting enough sleep?
- Do you lie awake at night worrying?
- Do you feel that your everyday life is affected by a lack of sleep?
- Do you feel tense, irritable, stressed, worried?
- Do you feel tired/exhausted, restless?
- Do you have poor concentration, disturbed sleep?
- Do you lack energy?
- Do you have thoughts like “I won’t be able to fall asleep / I’ll stay awake all night / I’m never going to get enough sleep”?
- Do you often lay awake in bed at night?
- Do you try to catch up on sleep during the day?
- Do you frequently check the clock during the night?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be experiencing problems with your sleep. Everyone at one time or another has problems with their sleep. It is very common. However, where sleep problems have been going on for a while, the issue should be brought to a health professional – GP and/or counselor. Why? Because your sleep issue is associated with your emotional state, with any issue you are currently facing. Sleep problems affect your productivity and creativity at work, they also affect your mood, your behavior, your patience and your relationship with others. You can of course follow the guidelines I am going to mention, but I can’t guarantee that you’ll be successful. Those guidelines are certainly helpful. They aim at getting you in a more relaxed state of mind before you go to bed but they don’t solve the triggers.
Basically, sleep problems can be categorized into three types:
Problems getting to sleep – lying awake, not being able to fall asleep, feeling anxious about not being able to fall asleep, not being able to calm your mind, not being able to stop the flow of thoughts, fear of sleeping
Problems staying asleep – waking up very early in the morning even during the weekends or on holidays
Poor quality sleep – having the feeling that you did not get enough sleep, having the feeling that you got enough sleep but not feeling energized and revigorated by the sleep you get, oversleeping but still not feeling refreshed and energized
My first and important advice to you: don’t compare yourself with others. We are all different. Depending on your age, state of health and activity level, you need a specific amount of sleep. Some people can be happy with 5 to 6 hours of sleep whereas others needs at least 8 hours to feel at their best. The average amount of sleep recommended is indeed 8 hours, but, again, your situation is unique so don’t focus too much on this number. The risk by doing so is to put additional pressure on yourself and you really don’t need this!
Most of the time, sleep issues have their origins in the following:
- Life events distracting you and causing you worries
- Anxious thoughts and beliefs about not getting sufficient sleep, about being unable to fall asleep
- Bad sleeping habits
- Effects of medication, drugs, alcohol, too much caffeine
- Unhealthy, fat and sugar-rich diet
- Lack of exercise
- Physical pain
- Change of the sleep pattern when aging
Life events, anxious thoughts and beliefs, unhealthy diet, physical pain, change of sleep pattern can’t be discussed in this article as they reflect your very personal situation. What I can do is challenge your sleeping habits and explain you what may keep a sleep problem going.
Challenge your sleeping habits:
- Your bedroom should be as dark as possible
- Turn your digital clock and any light so they don’t face you
- Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible which includes sleeping in another room if your partner usually snores
- Keep your bedroom cool if the climate you live in allows
- Get yourself comfortable bed and mattress that make you feel great right away when you lay on them – they play a great role in you being happy to go to bed and rest
- Get yourself a so-called memory shape pillow. Last year, I myself went through a sleep problem period. I was getting up feeling pain in my neck and shoulders. I couldn’t get the sleep I needed as I was unable to find a comfortable position although I have a very comfortable mattress. I simply got myself a memory shape pillow and immediately my sleep problem stopped. Give it a try if, like me, you are unable to find a comfortable sleep position. Check both mattress and pillow.
- Keep your sheets fresh and change them at least every two weeks or more if needed
- Take your TV out of your bedroom – it is not meant for watching TV
- Have sex before you sleep – sex will make you feel happy, tired and will ease your sleep
- You can also choose to do relaxation exercises, read, have a bath – anything that can help you relax
- Leave your mobile phone as well as any other device in another room – they do not have a place in your bedroom
What may keep a sleep problem going? Here is a short extract of what can maintain a sleep problem:
- You predict you will not sleep even before you go to bed
- You go on with the same bad sleeping habits
- You are not ready to solve your sleep problem yet
- You take naps during the day which affects your sleep pattern
- You eat too late at night or too much – and this, just before going to bed
- You are not sleepy at all, you go to bed and then get stressed and anxious about not falling asleep
- You drink too much coffee or tea at night or just before going to bed
- You think just before going to bed that you did not sleep well the night before
I can hardly mention all reasons as you may well imagine. Begin with challenging your sleeping habits and try and correct them. Watch your thoughts as they will decide whether you will get the sleep you need or not. You can of course try medication but I have never seen someone succeeding with medication. There is a risk of becoming addicted and medication can have negative consequences on your health. If your sleep issue is the consequence of an emotional trigger, medication won’t provide any solution.
What do we do in coaching sessions for sleep issues? Sleep issues can belong to the many issues we tackle in Executive Coaching.
- We get to understand the sleep issue: we examine any aspect of your life that can contribute to your sleep issue (career, nutrition, social life, emotional health, habits, beliefs, thoughts…)
- We challenge and change any wrong belief about sleep
- We get you motivated to solve your sleep issue
- We bypass any mental or emotional blockage
- We solve any fear of sleeping
- You learn positive self-talk statements
- You learn relaxation techniques
- You learn and implement new and useful habits
I also recommend you the following website: https://www.tuck.com/creatvity-and-sleep/ which is full of useful information as far as sleep is concerned.