The idea that men are completely unable to organize or process their emotional issues is a dated one, yet we do have a terrible habit of letting them pile up from time to time. It is a modern human trait to avoid dealing with problems directly, and to instead attempt to hide or obliterate them through one of many flawed strategies: denial, a busy schedule, medication—approaches that will at best offset the symptoms, while only further embedding the root issue.
And so, we lay awake at night, turning our troubles over and over in our minds, unable to get the decent stretch of sleep that might actually enable us to tackle those troubles directly in the morning. Days and weeks go by, and in sets fatigue. The lack of sleep itself becomes another problem to keep us awake. The occasional booze binge results in eight turbulent hours of low quality sleep, and the addition of guilt to our list of worries. Worry-induced sleeplessness becomes a self-perpetuating condition.
Arresting this cycle is a matter of discipline, but also of acceptance. Choosing to face up to the issue squarely is the best first step you can take. This means identifying and isolating the issues that trouble you, and categorizing them into one of two camps: the things that you can change, and the things that you cannot. Use the daytime hours to work on the first category, and when you’re laying awake at night, be aware that sleep—however much you can do to encourage the process—falls into the latter category. Make yourself physically and emotionally comfortable in bed, and get used to the idea that you might be here for a while.
About those things you can do to encourage the process: the value of your bedtime ritual cannot be overstated—and for the sake of ‘bedtime,’ let’s talk about the two hour period before lights-out. Start with the quality of light around you. Switch off your devices (which are only waiting to worry you with the next newsflash or late work email anyway), and if you must work late on your laptop—use an app to calibrate your screen to a warmer color, or switch your Word view from black-text-on-white to white-on-black. Your body is very sensitive to the regulation of light. This is, on the most fundamental level, how it knows when to sleep and when to wake.
You can meet this strategy at the other end, too: keep your waking time regular, rise with the sun if you can, and try to spend a bit of time outdoors to soak up the rays and to prime your body clock. It can take a few days to get used to a new regime, but this is where the discipline comes in.
The team at OnStride has put together a comprehensive guide to putting some perspective on the worries that keep you awake at night and backing it up with good sleep regulation techniques. Make that decision to face up to your sleepless nights with resolve and good practice, and those cool bed sheets will become a far more welcoming place to be.
Why you can’t sleep (and what to do about it), courtesy of On Stride
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