You’re awake again. You don’t have to look at the clock to know it’s the middle of the night. It’s way too early to get up and you haven’t gotten enough sleep to conquer the next day. And that’s where it starts. You know you need more shuteye, so you turn around, keep your eyes closed, and hope sleep will come.
You turn around again, fluff up your pillow, take a deep breath and start imagining the next day. You know you’ll have bags under you eyes and that coffee isn’t going to cut it. You probably have an important meeting that you can’t afford to mess up. The pressure to get back to sleep continues to rise.
We’ve all been there. I count myself lucky to only have a night like this once every few months. But every time I catch myself wondering, how can it be so hard to sleep? It’s the most normal thing in the world and yet it seems like you cannot force it or control it when things go bad. Or can you?
That’s what I was wondering when I reached out to Christine Hansen, who left a career in education back in 2015 and is now a sleep coach. She coaches successful and career driven women (and inspiring men) on how to get a solid nights’ sleep so they wake up refreshed, with more energy, and ready to tackle their legacy and personal life. Her approach involves no pharmaceuticals and addresses the whole picture – not just one piece of the puzzle – so of course I wanted to learn from her!
According to Christine, sleep is as unique as a fingerprint. Unless your sleep issue is medical (like having a sleep apnea), no two humans have the same reasons for sleeping poorly. Even though it can be our environment that’s working against us, so often it’s actually our minds that won’t let us drift back to sleep. I asked Christine to share her best strategies for calming our own minds so we can conquer those 3am mornings once and for all.
Be sure to download the PDF version of this post so you can reference these tips whenever you need to:
Without further delay, here are Christine’s words of wisdom!
1) Spread out your thoughts.
As entrepreneurs, we are so busy that we don’t leave any space for our thoughts during the day. Our profession means so much to us, which is a good thing. But it also allows us to completely neglect the things we worry about. Unfinished business, especially personal stuff, is pushed aside to focus on work. So allow yourself to worry at least once during the day.
Take your calendar and schedule in at least one ten-minute meeting with yourself each day. During that meeting, you are absolutely not available for anyone. You can go outside for a walk or go to your favorite coffee shop (but avoid stimulating drinks after lunch). If you are hardcore don’t take your cell phone with you!
During that time, let yourself worry. Look for those thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable and say hello to them. Let them exist in your mind and remember that they are just thoughts! They are not actions. You are the master of what you actually do. Not your thoughts.
2) Get up and leave your bedroom.
You wake up in the middle of the night and you just know that sleep won’t come. In this case, staying in bed can become toxic and increase your stress levels.
So just get up. Leave your bedroom and do something boring that you don’t particularly like but needs your attention. Great activities like this are folding laundry, ironing, Sudoku puzzles, doing the dishes, or dusting furniture.
Those activities aren’t too exhausting or stimulating, but they are challenging enough to take your mind off any thoughts that might increase your stress levels.
Do not under any circumstances open up your laptop, check your phone or start planning out your next three months in business!
3) Keep a journal next to your bed.
You will need this for two separate things when preparing for bed or if you find that you can’t sleep.
First, write down three positive things that happened to you during the day. Those needn’t be curing cancer or providing world peace. Being given a free pen or finding a penny on the street are enough to qualify.
This will help you to feel more lighthearted and peaceful when going to bed and starting to sleep.
Second, when you wake up and you have an idea – which often happens because our brain is just more creative when rejuvenated by sleep – write it down. If you don’t, you might be subconsciously stressed about forgetting it again. Writing down your idea will give you some peace of mind.
If you want to know all the other ways you can improve your sleep, check out the free gift Christine made you over at Sleep Like A Boss.
Download the guide to sleeping like a boss.
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