Almost every one of us has had our sleep interrupted or prevented by uncontrollable thoughts that run through our conscious minds. Reduced quality of rest has a negative effect on our performance and quality of life in many situations. So learning to control these distracting thoughts, or perhaps better, preventing these thoughts from racing through our minds, when we should be sleeping, would be a positive. Easier said than done…
I have had difficulty with avoiding certain anxiety producing conversations with my wife at bedtime or just after the “lights go out.” This is not unique because this can be a good time to have an undistracted conversation. However, an unsettling conversation as I am trying to let go of the thoughts of the day can open the doors for consideration of the dilemmas of life which can prevent an easy path to a restful sleep.
These conversations can be important and necessary. It is just the timing of these moments of communication that I find difficult. There are better times in the day to work on these important subjects. The bottom line is that at “bedtime” there is not much that you can do with the new information other than ruminate or fret over it.
The things that are the most stressful are things that you care the most about but which you can not control. As an example, parents usually care about what happens to their child (or children) but often the parent can not control every detail regarding what our offspring will be confronted by. When we experience difficulties with jobs/careers, finance, relationships, health concerns (for ourselves or our loved ones,) changes in our economy, weather, or even the process of aging, we can find ourselves troubled by distracted minds stressed by these events that we have little or no ability to control. These distractions dance through our minds and set off our primitive survival responses and this, in turn, does not allow our minds to relax and drift into soothing, restful sleep.
Medications can relax some of the systems that can keep us awake. Drugs can mask the emotional challenge, but not solve the roots of this challenge. Drug use can also lead to physical and emotional dependency which creates more problems. Better solutions include appropriate communication and problem solving. Some people can benefit from adjusting their attitudes realizing that the things they can not control may be better tolerated if one learns to accept the issue and to build a more solid emotional foundation to help stabilize our responses in these difficult times. (Again, easier said than done, but worth developing as a preventive mechanism.)
Self-care will help give you strength to tolerate these difficult situations. Physical exercise, eating well (healthy), and regular relaxation/meditation will help. Counseling which can help create emotional and spiritual support may be helpful, additionally. Most importantly, deal with your challenges during the day. It may not be best to discuss, or to mentally work on these issues at bedtime.
The 50 to 1 Countdown exercise that I teach in other blogs, articles, and in the book is a great technique to help quiet the mind and promote a deep and restful sleep. Consider trying it. For more individualized coaching, consider our professional coaching for enhancing performance and productivity by contact us through the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress Education Center’s website
Please take good care of yourself.