John Von Arnim offers eight steps to get a decent night’s shut-eye.
You’re lying awake again, staring at the ceiling and it’s 2 a.m. Your body is exhausted but your mind won’t shut down. Too many nights without a long stretch of shut-eye and you end up feeling like a zombie. Here are eight steps to get back in control of your body, your behaviour and your sleep patterns.
Just because you feel knackered when you fall into bed isn’t a guarantee of a coma-like slumber. Your body’s reactions to stress have accumulated during the day. Your pulse is still racing and even your hair feels clenched. The first step to beating the tossing and turning MO is to maintain a calm state of mind, especially towards the early evening.
Inhaling and exhaling deeply helps you to stay cool under all circumstances. When we’re stressed, the default response is to hold our breath or take only short breaths. Slow breathing also helps to fight emotional stress, one of the main causes of racing thoughts in the wee small hours.
Be aware of your personal inverted pyramid of piss. Vast bulks of rage, irrational thoughts, misconceptions, etc., founded on barely discernible reasons such as a dislike of all things Italian because of a hated brother-in-law’s mild fondness for lasagne. Psychologists call them emotional triggers and being aware of them helps you break the cycles of prickly defensiveness and unpredictable reactions that leave you drained yet annoyingly alert at the end of each day.
Always step back and think before responding. A huge percentage of sleepless nights are caused by fretting because you ran off at the mouth, sent off a fiery email too quickly or texted a snarky comment before you had time to think things through. Staying unruffled in the face of your own stress or another person’s angry reaction creates the space to reach a compromise or, better still, a positive outcome the best sleep inducer there is.
We live in an era where everyone ‘s so focused on getting their point across that they don’t listen. Being a good listener has two big pay-offs. Firstly, it helps you to acquire knowledge. People are more responsive to a listener, helping you avoid the “I’m in the dark here” feeling. It also helps to defuse troublesome situations before they get out of hand because you have understood what the other person has to say rather than hearing what you wanted to hear. Two good springboards to a restful night.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Whether you’re working for yourself or someone else, always keep the big picture front of mind and don’t sweat the small stuff. That’s the inside track to long-term distress and insomnia. Bone sale falls through — of course, it’s irritating — but your gaze should stay fixed on the end game of double digit growth by the end of the quarter.
Knowing what you can and can’t control in your life is a constant mantra in self-help books. Sure, it’s a sign of emotional maturity, but more importantly it’s a good habit to master if you want to lessen the toll on your physical and emotional health—whether you’re running a business or managing staff. You can’t stop that price hike due to currency fluctuations and you can’t prevent someone accepting a better offer from another company unless you’re prepared to up the ante.
Practice Makes Perfect
Most of us will never acquire the calm acceptance of the Dalai Lama, but with perseverance and willpower you can break bad habits that have robbed you of sleep for years.