Challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back from getting a solid nights’ sleep.
Last week was the first step in creating a regular sleep schedule. This will lead to not only trouble sleeping at night, but eventually making insomnia a non-issue.
Can you imagine a time in the near future where your life won’t revolve around sleep? A time where sleep will come naturally and you feel rested? And on nights where you don’t sleep well (because everyone, including people who don’t have insomnia, have the odd sleepless night), it won’t be any sweat off your back because you know you’ll sleep well again soon?
Your life might be fraught with anxiety around sleep right now, but it doesn’t have to be. It only became that way because of learned thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours. This week we’re going to start dismantling the first two – thoughts and beliefs.
If you don’t think it’s possible – that being an insomniac is just part of your personality now – let’s go through a thought exercise.
What is something that you believed so deeply about yourself, something you thought was a fundamental part of who you are, only for it to evolve at some point?
It could be something as simple as thinking you’re not very good at math, only to find there were some concepts particularly easy to understand.
It could be a job you thought you were meant for, only to find yourself enjoying something completely different.
Or maybe it was something you were told by your parents (“he’s just a loner”, “she doesn’t have street smarts”) that turned out to be flat out wrong (he wasn’t a loner, just introverted; she was academically inclined and they didn’t understand).
There are many examples of this, some of which were positive (like the math and job examples listed above) and others that were a tough pill to swallow but turned out ok in the end anyway.
Either way, there’s a good chance that there’s something in your life that you thought was a fundamental truth about yourself, only to have it shaken in some way.
Look at you – you’re incredibly strong for getting through the trials of your life. It doesn’t matter if it was messy or you think of how you could have done things differently, you are here today.
You’re here showing up for yourself, trying to better your situation by searching and learning. To finally rid yourself of your trouble sleeping at night.
Even if insomnia feels mostly hopeless there’s obviously still a bright glimmer that improvement is on the horizon.
You’ve done this before. You dropped thoughts and beliefs that weren’t working for you, and picked up new ones that helped you persevere on your new trajectory. You can do it again with insomnia. So that’s what we’ll be starting with this week to make a permanent, lasting change in your life.
This week, you will start modifying your toxic thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back from getting a solid night’s sleep. As someone with insomnia, you quite likely have thoughts and beliefs around sleep that are overly energised, dramatically negative, and hopelessly sad. It’s counterintuitive, annoying, and does nothing for you other than stress you out and give you trouble sleeping at night. So let’s change that.
This week, there are actually two missions.
The first is you will continue with your sleep restriction schedule. Here is the sleep restriction calculator again if you missed it. It may be hard, it may be messy, and it may not be perfect. You will still feel sleep deprived for a bit. If you keep at it though, your body WILL catch on to a normal sleep/wake rhythm. This is just the beginning of a very fruitful journey to getting a regular sleep schedule.
The second is to take the proper time and care to complete each quest. This week’s quests require active thought and analysis from you, so be sure to create space so you can properly process what is going on in your mind.
Are you actually on week 3 of the program, or are you reading ahead?
I’m not talking about reading through a week before getting started. I’m talking about you reading weeks 1, 2, and 3 without actually working through those weeks. It’s fine to read in advance to see what the expectations will be, but I want to note at this point that you should follow the program and take a full seven days for every week of this course.
The reason for this is because you need to digest the information and be truly ready for change. Reading something and not implementing it is like standing in the rain and thinking you’ve learned how to swim. You need to actually understand and implement the actions for any change to take place, and you need to be completely committed to learning, trying, and trying again.
So how do you know you’re ready for change?
I take Dr. Phil with a grain of salt, but he did say something that stuck with me. I remember him mentioning that there are four stages of readiness for change:
Compelled by authority to change. An example of this is you land in court for a drug charge and they sentence you to rehab. You didn’t go there under your own volition so there’s a near zero chance of lasting change.
Comply to escape criticism. This is when you’re so sick of being nagged about something that you try to change. Again, since it’s not an intrinsic desire to change but rather someone else’s desire, your chance of lasting change is close to zero.
Intellectually aware of the need for change. Here, you’ll see someone rationalise why they need to change. You know you should change, but there isn’t a ‘thirst’ for change.
Mentally and emotionally self-motivated by change.
“Stage 4 is when you can honest to God say, ‘I am so sick to death of this that I will not put up with this for another second, for another minute of another hour of another day. I don’t care how scary it is, I don’t care what’s on the other side, I will not put up with this for another second. I will change this, I don’t care what it takes.’ That’s when you get change.”
This is where real change takes place.
When it comes to insomnia, this is when you say to yourself:
- I am so tired of being tired. I’m done with my trouble sleeping at night.
- I don’t care what I have to do, and how hard the process will be, I want to get better.
- I deserve so much more than this and I will put in the work to get it.
If this is where you are – good. You are ready.
>>BUT HEAD THIS CALL<<
Take the suggested amount of time to internalise these lessons. If you jump ahead before you’ve completed them, you’re selling yourself short.
It’s important that I put this note here because last week’s goal and mission of sleep restriction is the bedrock of recovery. Even if your first week of sleep restriction doesn’t go well, you know what it takes to get a regular schedule. Set the foundation for good sleep, and change will come.