These days, it seems articles, commercials, and even social media posts about the importance of sleep are unavoidable.
You’ve undoubtedly seen and heard them for yourself. You’ve also probably heard how important it is to get at least eight hours of sleep, or the negative effects sleep problems can have on your mind and body.
While there’s a kernel of truth to some of that, most of these messages are missing one important detail. They’re causing sleep anxiety.
All of this worrying about sleep is doing more harm than good. Ironically enough, worrying about sleep causes more sleep problems. You could be creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. That’s when the real lack of sleep will start to take hold.
So, if you’re using an app to track your sleep hours, struggling with specific alarms, or constantly fretting about getting the sleep you need, what can you do?
Let’s cover a few ways to let go of your sleep worries, so you can finally get the rest you need.
Don’t Worry About the Negative Effects
What could keep someone awake and fearful more than thinking about health issues?
If you’re tossing and turning each night, knowing that if you don’t sleep, you’ll “get sick” or increase your risk of illness, you’re not going to have a restful experience.
Poor sleep in the short term isn’t harmful, though.
In fact, it can build up your sleep drive and help you fall asleep more easily. Many studies have even shown short-term sleep loss can even help with depression.
Can it be frustrating? Yes. But, if thinking about all the “horrible side effects” you’ve heard about is keeping you awake, it’s important to work on letting them go. Think about the parents of a newborn. Who’s more sleep-deprived than them? Yet, most are perfectly fine and able to function properly on very little sleep.
Don’t Focus On Hours
Everyone’s needs are different. To make a mass generalization that every person needs eight hours of sleep each night isn’t fair or healthy. Some people can get by with five or six. Others may need nine.
What’s most important is that you focus on your needs, not something a study suggests. When you stop worrying about the hours and sleep for your individual health, you’ll find it’s easier to rest.
Changing the Way You Think About Sleep
The more stressed you are about sleep, the harder it will be to actually get the rest you need. So, what if you stopped caring?
It might sound easier said than done but consider how much easier it would be to fall asleep peacefully you weren’t worried about getting enough rest or weren’t focused on having to get up early. The less you care about the sleep you get, the easier it will be to get more sleep.
You don’t need to rely on medication to get the sleep you need. Behavioral strategies can make it easier and provide a long-term solution to the sleep problems you may be dealing with.
It can take time to “de-program” yourself from what you’ve heard about sleep. We’ve been influenced for so long about the hours we need and the importance of sleep hygiene, that it can be difficult to let go of those things. But, once you do, you’ll find a less worrisome, less anxious state of mind around sleep.
If you’re struggling to let go of your worries about sleep, feel free to contact our practice. We can help you work on strategies you can use to start sleeping without fear or worry. And you can learn more about CBT for insomnia here.