Episode 27


Stop Trying To Sleep

Still trying to fall asleep? Hoping and willing yourself to slumberland is an uphill battle, and a counterproductive one! So do yourself a favor, and stop trying to sleep.

In this episode, I discuss a more effective target of your efforts when it comes to getting a good night of rest.

Sleep is an unavoidable biological process. Without interference, it will happen by itself. Unfortunately, our efforts to try to will sleep into existence by sheer force often result in its delay. Trying to sleep may actually be keeping you awake.

Just as settling down physical activity encourages the onset of sleep, so too does settling of mental activity. But trying to sleep is anything but a settling of mental activity. The harder you try to sleep - the more mental energy spent willing sleep to occur, the harder it will be for sleep to occur. That mental activity, that act of trying has delayed the very thing it is intended to bring about.

Rather than trying to sleep, use this simple 5 step process instead:

  1. Pause and recognize what is happening. Take stock of your current physical and mental state and the events that having been leading up to this present moment.
  2. Accept that this is happening. Accept that you don't get to decide when exactly you fall asleep. Accept that, like many things in life, this is not a choice that you get. And accept that fact that you are not powerless either, that you control your judgements and actions, and that there is MUCH in your life that you influence, even if the ultimate outcome is not your determination.
  3. Hold yourself with a bit of compassion. Recognize your own suffering and feel motivated to alleviate it. You did not intend to struggle with sleep. Tell yourself that this is hard - it is difficult to experience and difficult to accept. 
  4. Get clear about your goals and values. What truly matters to you? What is it that you hope to gain by feeling better rested? What do you intend to do with the fruits of a good night of sleep - or the abundant harvest of a life full of good nights of rest?
  5. Recognize how to create the conditions to allow for normal sleep to occur to support you living the life you want to live. Feeling well rested by having a lifestyle that creates the physical and psychological conditions for sleep is key to thriving, is essential to you having the resources necessary to truly live the life you want to live.

So stop trying to sleep, and instead find and encourage the conditions that most effectively promote your life purposes, and the routines and habits that create the conditions to promote healthy normal sleep will unsurprisingly align with the conditions that promote your best life.


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