Sleep Performance Anxiety

Some folk really have a problem with sleep. This is odd to me because sleep is natural and very easy to do. I happen to be very good at it.

There are many reasons why people may have trouble sleeping, but apart from the more severe pathological ones, mostly they are simply going about it the wrong way.

I’m not talking about the physical act of going to bed, and the sleeping environment, though those are important too, but rather, how wrong headed many people are about sleep itself.

You see many people set themselves totally unrealistic sleep goals and then fail to meet them. They get stressed about this and that makes it even harder to sleep, which makes them more anxious about it; a vicious cycle.

What are they doing wrong?

  1. They expect to be on-the-go right until bedtime, doing stuff or watching a screen, but then somehow they expect to fall asleep instantly without needing to wind down.
  2. They set a short window of time to sleep, say only 7 hours and this is if you sleep every second of it which of course they do not do.
  3. They know that if they don’t magically sleep for all these minutes, and even if they do, they’ll not feel rested and ready for the next day, so every moment that they lie awake they get more anxious about how bad they’re going to feel in the morning. I call this syndrome “I’m sleeping as fast as I can”.
  4. They get up to a lousy morning routine and uninspiring breakfast habits that would deter one from getting up at all if it was avoidable. Oh, and let’s not mention the tedious commute to the unappealing job.

SleepSo what to do instead?

  1. This is the main one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t sleep well tonight. You will sleep eventually, if not tonight then tomorrow or the next night. And a couple of sleepless nights is really no big deal. But getting worked up about it, that does the damage. So relax, every moment awake increases the likelihood that your next sleep will be fantastic, this is a much more positive view of it.
  2. Sleep when you are sleepy, and allow yourself enough time to do that. That means more hours available for sleep, and to wind down (not wind yourself up) immediately before bed time. Also if you are not sleepy, don’t go to bed.
  3. TV and computers before bed are a no-no, the screens light programs you to stay awake.
  4. Give yourself time in the morning between when you get up and when you start having to do things to have a relaxing start to the day. Eat nice food, drink great coffee. Wear a great robe. Whatever makes you happy.
  5. Do not use the snooze button. Set the alarm for getting up time, and get up when it goes off. The trouble with snooze alarms is they they neither let you sleep properly nor get you out of bed. They create a bad habit of lying in bed and simply wasting valuable sleep or awake time.