It’s difficult for your body to rest and sleep if your mind is stuck on fast-forward. I’m sure most of you have experienced the sleep disturbances that come prior to the start of a family trip, an important business meeting, or even an anticipated confrontation with a friend or associate.
Your body may be dog tired, but your mind won’t quit going over and over the details of the upcoming event. Even in the case of something eagerly anticipated, such as a vacation, you can’t sleep. You worry about the alarm not going off and sleeping through your flight. You worry whether you’ve left all the necessary instructions for the neighbor who’s watching the house. You worry that you’ve forgotten to pack some vital item. The bottom line is you worry.
Worry robs us of sleep. It is an often strenuous mental activity that rarely produces any beneficial insight or unforeseen solution. Yet still we do it. In order to get the rest we require, we need to stop. That, of course, can be easier said than done. Worry rises out of a concern of being unprepared or a fear of a negative consequence. You may have missed your flight two years ago or left your speech notes on the kitchen table or remember how badly your last confrontation went with that person. All those things would seem to whisper that your concern and worry is justified. The problem is, all that whispering keeps you up and night!
It is possible to take steps that guard against the negative consequences. For example, if you’re worried about not hearing the alarm, you can get a louder, more obnoxious alarm clock, or you can position several alarms throughout the room on the theory that even if one fails, the others will work and wake you up. If you are concerned about leaving behind something important for that business meeting, pack your car or your briefcase the night before. If you’re worried how the conversation is going to go with that other person, write down the points you want to be sure to get across and give yourself permission to use those during your meeting. When you feel more in control, you will worry less.
Oftentimes, the worry you experience has nothing to do with a realistic assessment of the potential for things to go wrong. Rather, you worry because that little voice inside your head speaks from a position of negativity. You can’t let go of the day because you feel you’ve failed in some way. You can’t stop beating yourself up over a perceived failure. You can’t rest because you don’t feel entitled to it. The television blaring is merely your way of drowning out that voice. Darkness and quiet only seem to amplify your feelings of inadequacy. In this case, rest and sleep are not positive for you. Rather, they are times when you feel most vulnerable and under attack from your own insecurities. When the rest of the world is sleeping, you have only yourself for company.
In order to relax, that transition time between wake and sleep needs to be a positive, supportive review of your day and yourself. If you’ve had a great day, you need to take comfort in that, not consider it an aberration. If you’ve had a bad day, you need to evaluation what went wrong and why, for the purpose of learning and growing from it. It’s time for you to pay attention to—and direct—the voices in your head that lull you to sleep.
Ask yourself whether you are the sort of person who has trouble “putting down” the day. Do you put it down and then immediately pick it back up again by worrying and reliving it? Do you ever feel satisfied with how the day has gone? Or do you find yourself with a constant complaint about your life that just won’t go away? Have you ever used alcohol or drugs to help you sleep so you could turn off that voice in your head?
Write down the things you find yourself habitually worrying about. For each worry item, list three positive steps you are going to take to address the situation. If it’s a situation that can’t be addressed, how is worrying going to help you? When you find yourself worrying about each item, remind yourself of what you’re going to do to be proactive in dealing with it. Remind yourself that you are in control of your life and your rest. Commit to reducing your habit of worrying so you can increase that quality of your sleep.
If you or a loved one is suffering from stress, hopelessness or depression, know that there is help. For more information about depression treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE Depression Treatment Facility was recently ranked as one of the top ten facilities in the country for the treatment of depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.