Here’s a “fun” fact: our primitive minds can override the biological processes that help us sleep. The flight-fight-freeze (F3) response is an ingrained response to imminent danger that was instilled in us many millennia ago27. It’s actually a pretty neat system that creates an automatic response in us that not only protects us from threats and danger, but has also helped humans survive.
The F3 system was great when we had to be on high alert for sabertooth tigers and didn’t have proper shelter. Even now, it can still be incredibly useful. Have you ever had the intention to cross the street but it felt like something stopped you right before a car whizzed by where you would have stepped? This is our F3 alarm protecting us before our conscious mind can even reason out what to do. These are the types of situations where a heightened level of anxiety truly works in our favour.
It becomes a problem, however, when our minds react like we’re in a life or death situation but in reality we’re simply anxious about a non-imminent threat….
If you get anxious enough about sleep, the alarm bells will go off. Even if you’re not thinking about anything in particular, your body is responding with an F3 emergency alert. Your heart starts racing, your muscles tense, and your palms get cold and clammy. Then your sleep is interrupted anyway since that F3 alarm increases stress hormones which make you have to get up and pee…
In the tools you will be implementing this week, I will share a few methods to help override the flight-fight-freeze alarm. That way, your biology has some space to do what it needs to do to get you to sleep.