Emergency Protocol For Getting To Sleep On A Stressful Night
If you’re the type of person who coasts through bad times and could sleep through a hurricane, this post is not for you. For the rest of us, as much as we’d love to have emotions made up mostly of inspirational quotes and Buddha-like serenity, stress gets to us. Worst of all, thanks to Murphy’s law, stress can make it difficult to sleep in times we need to most.
It goes without saying that stressful periods are when you should prioritize sleep hygiene more than ever, but the catch-22 is, that’s probably the last thing on your mind. Do the best you can, but if you find yourself staring at the ceiling at 3am in a loop of anxious thoughts (Are you reading this at 3am? We hope you have a screen warmer app on), put this plan into action. While it’s not guaranteed to put you to sleep, it’ll definitely increase your chances. If nothing else, taking actionable steps puts you back in the driver’s seat, which can be helpful in itself.
Firstly, if you’re stuck in the dreaded stressful-thought loop, get up. This advice may seem counterintuitive, but you probably know that just "snapping out of it" while lying still is next to impossible (unless you’re a pro meditator, in which case you’re probably not reading this in the middle of the night anyway). Splash some water on your face and drink a glass of water.
Still with us? Remember that if you’re having something like an anxiety attack in the middle of the night, you’re not going to be able to get back to sleep until you shut off your fight-or-flight response. That’s the cocktail of chemicals your body releases to equip you for stressful situations that might have arisen earlier in our evolution – like, say, a predator. This response is maladapted to when you’re worried about an early meeting, where your racing heartbeat is unlikely to help anyone involved.
The best way to override fight-or-flight is simple distraction. Do a non-stressful (read: not work-related) but focused activity that takes you out of your headspace. This is a great time to fold laundry, or tune into a relaxing podcast like sleep with me or game of drones (for all you GOT nerds out there).
Do this just long enough to slow your heart rate and get out of the vicious stress cycle, and then go back to bed. Close your eyes and tell yourself that whatever you’re worried about can wait till morning – because in all likelihood, it can. No matter what’s in your way right now, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it if you let yourself get some shut-eye. Best of luck with whatever’s on your mind from everyone at Regal Sleep Solutions. We know you’ll figure it out.