When you do not get a good night’s sleep, what do you notice?
In addition to feeling tired, do you notice that you are impatient, make poor choices, feel sad or foggy, and make more mistakes? Sleep is an imperative for your body and mind. And yet, in some work cultures poor sleep has become a ‘badge of honor’ and you hear people brag about how little sleep they get. For others, sleep is sought after and yet remains elusive.
Over decades of working with professionals, the Institute has found that the most common culprits interfering with your sleep can be significantly diminished if you are able to take 3 steps:
- Turn off all electronics at least one hour before you go to bed. The light from computers and phones stimulates the brain preventing it from beginning to relax and prepare for sleep.
- Leave all electronics outside the bedroom. Trying to sleep with your phone or laptop inches from your head sends the signal that the brain should stay on ‘high alert’ waiting for the next ding or notification icon. This is true even if it is turned off.
- When you are in bed, pay attention to the sensations of your breath. When your mind is pulled away from the breath and begins to go over your ‘to do’ list, or begins replaying a conversation, be consistent about letting it go for now, and returning your attention to your breath. Be patient with yourself but keep practicing in this way. You are training your mind to ease into sleep rather than worrying the night away.
These simple mindfulness steps are not easy. You may have conditioned yourself to be connected 24/7 but the toll on your brain and body is not sustainable, and the first place you may begin to notice the effects is in poor sleep. Sleep is when you recharge so you can be at your best-your brain and your cells need this time to cultivate resilience and prepare you for the next day. Sweet dreams!