Don’t Let a Lack of Sleep Affect Your Day
It’s a common phenomenon; waking up in the early hours of the morning, and struggling to get back to sleep. We have all experienced it, some more than others. And most of us spend the next few hours tossing and turning, looking at the clock to check the time, trying to find something to do to help us fall asleep.
But the more we will ourselves to fall asleep, the more pressure we put on ourselves, the less likely it is to actually happen. This is actually something that can be applied to other aspects of our lives; perhaps the key to a happy life.
Instead of beating yourself up about it, try and use the time wisely. Ignore the negative thoughts in your mind. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ll be really tired in the morning, or if you have a busy day coming up. Just give yourself a break, this happens to everyone!
Drew Coster, in his article on psychcentral.com, suggests doing something you enjoy. Whether it be writing, reading, watching TV or catching up on wacky YouTube videos, it is much better than lying in bed with waves of unhelpful and self-sabotaging thoughts. It may even be a good thing – it’s an extra bit of quiet time for you and your mind. Get some peace, spend some time on you for a change.
Yes a lack of sleep can be bad for you, but that only applies if it is extremely regular. A few less hours of sleep ONE night is not going to be detrimental. The only way it will effect your day is if you keep beating yourself up about it, telling yourself that you wont be able to cope. Try not to think about what will happen later, just focus on the now.
Another way this can impact your life is that you may play the ‘poor me’ card. Don’t feel bad, we have all done it. I, for one, am excellent at this! Telling the people around you, your work colleagues or friends, that you didn’t get much sleep, and that you may not be able to perform properly. This is a common way of behaving, something Coster suggests may be rooted in our childhood. For example, if our parents have trouble getting us to sleep they may tell us “You need to get to sleep if you’re going to do well in school tomorrow”.
But think about it, how many times have you stayed up late reading or on Facebook or just hanging out with friends, and still been able to get through the next day as if nothing has happened? As a Uni student I have seen, and experienced, my fair share of this. I know many people who will go on a night out, and will still make it in for a 9am lecture, and get their coursework done the next day. It is possible, as long as you don’t make a habit of it.
There are many different views on how much sleep we should be getting each night. But the fact is, everyone has different sleeping patterns. Some people need 8 hours, and some only need 5. It only becomes a problem when you think you need to get more sleep. If you create anxiety about your sleep patterns, then sleeping will be a problem in itself – you’ll stress about it before bed, then this will interfere with your sleeping pattern. Often, this ends up in a horrible cycle. You’ll wake up during the night only to check the clock and see if you’ve been asleep. Then you will see that you haven’t slept as much as you wanted, as your demanding and stressing has caused you to wake up.
Following this, some kind of insomnia may develop due to your anxiety. This causes your cognitive functioning to struggle, and you will start worrying more and more about sleep during the day, becoming more anxious the closer night time gets.
So, by following Coster’s advice, and making the most of the time you spend awake, will not only help you keep your mind off it that one night, it can also have positive effects on the next day and those after. Stop pressuring yourself when it comes to sleep. If you need to nap during the day, then nap! If you need to go to bed early and get some extra sleep, then do that too. Sleep is important to our cognitive functioning, but not so important that you should spend your time obsessing about it. Give yourself a break.
Written by: Philippa Berry.
Published on: 15th April 2013
- Self-Sabatoge When You Can’t Sleep (psychcentral.com)
- Why sleep is so important & tips to help you sleep better (samanthawardmartin.com)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (plushbeds.com)