How many times have you climbed between the sheets only to dwell on what it is you still need to accomplish? How often do you try to fall asleep by counting the items on your to-do list? Do you ever wake in a panic, fretting over the items you are supposed to do but obviously can’t do at 2:32 in the morning?
During the final month of wedding preparations, I was waist deep in redesigning and launching a website. My thoughts raced from coding contact forms to figuring out how to construct paper rosettes. I would mentally add “check with cater” and “double-check video splash page” to my to-do list, only to wake in the wee hours with the same items rolling around in my mind.
Both projects were making me a bit of a wreck and not getting a whole lot of sleep only compounded my issues. There are medications or herbal supplements that claim to help with “shutting off” the mind, but I’m not great with pills. Chamomile tea or a hot bath before bed wasn’t doing the trick.
However, I did find a cure that takes only about five minutes of my time but lasts for eight hours.
Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, posted a “challenge” in his “To Be Great, Be Grateful” blog entry (Nov 2012). He challenged readers “to think of an area of your life you are having difficulty in and want to improve. For the next 21 days, take three minutes at the end of the day and write down what about that problematic situation you appreciate, what’s good and what you’re grateful for. This could be a confrontational co-worker at the office, your job as a whole or your troubled marriage… anything or anyone that frustrates or negatively affects you.”
It was his claim that “when you change how you look at a situation, the situation changes.”
This positive shift in thoughts is reflected in an article on Oprah.com called The Power of Gratitude. The article says that ” if you want to start attracting positive things into your life, there is one small thing you should do every day—show your gratitude, appreciation and love for the people and things around you.
Focusing on what you accomplished and interactions that left a positive feeling right before bed helps to ease the “ear worm” or repetitious cycle of worry during the night. It also helps to balance the perspective; meaning you aren’t always consumed with what needs to be done but can relish in what you have done.
The gratitude journal can also be used to shine a positive light on upcoming projects, events or encounters. Instead of fretting and hand twisting about the future, use the journal to focus on the positive outcome. Plus, it’s a confidence booster.
“I can see myself losing five pounds and feeling great.”
“I will knock them dead at the conference.”
“I may experience some nerves, but I welcome the chance to read my own vows before friends and family.”
Remember, that worrying is forecasting a negative outcome to future events and you can’t control that. Take control of what you can think about, focus on what it is you know (your ability, your skills) and take back your bedtime.
Not the journaling type? Even just making a mental list can enhance your perspective . . . and your sleep quality.
Every night, I write in a simple little black book about the three things that I am grateful for or that made me smile. Sometimes it is nothing more than an entry about the fifteen minutes I spent playing with my cat. But remembering the highlights of the day helps me to end the day on a positive feeling and not the anxiety that is produced from trying to think about all the things “I was supposed to do.”
And I’ve never slept better.