Thoughts and sleep: Making the connection
How your thoughts affect your sleep
Let’s think of a scenario…. you called a friend and they said they would call you back, but they didn’t. How would you interpret this? Take a moment to think about it… What would you have thought happened?
Would you think this person was mad at you and that is why they didn’t call you back? How would that make you feel? Worried, concerned or confused? What if you thought they must have had an emergency? You might feel anxious, concerned, or scared. So even though nothing changed in the scenario, how we think about it affects how we feel.
You may be thinking, why are we talking about my thoughts and emotions? Well, how you think about sleep affects your nights. For example, if when you are going to bed, you start thinking thoughts like, “I’ll never be able to fall asleep tonight” or “I am going to be exhausted tomorrow and feel awful all day at work,” how would this make you feel? Probably worried, anxious, frustrated, or stressed. These feelings can prevent us from sleeping.
When we notice these unhelpful thoughts, first we ask ourselves, is this thought a fact? Most of the time, the answer to this question is “no.” Have there ever been times when you did fall asleep more quickly than you expected? Have there been days that you did not sleep well but had a pretty good day? The next thing to do is to think of an alternative thought. For example, you could think, “I have had some nights that I fell asleep quickly,” or “I’ve had days that I felt pretty good even though I did not sleep well the night before.” Changing the way you think changes the way you feel. We do not have control over a lot of things in life, but we can control what we are saying to ourselves, which can help us to achieve our goals.
This week, pay attention to your sleep-related thoughts. Notice what emotions they bring up. Is there another way you can think about sleep that would serve your goals?
Keep up the good work and remember you can achieve peaceful nights. Stay consistent with the guidelines and do the best you can!
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