It is well-documented, that sleep influences major chronic physical and mental health outcomes (1-3). We get into all sorts of trouble with poor sleep, make bad judgements, get grumpy, get into arguments, get emotional, get sick and reactive.
If one bad night turns into every bad night, we can end up moving through our days like an extra in a zombie film – not a great way to live.
All too often we think going to sleep starts when we lay down in bed, but what if it starts when we wake up in the morning?
It’s easy to see that if we are in Go Go Go mode all day, and are still Go Go Go with everything that needs to be done in the evening, such as being on our electronic devices, watching TV, having those ‘all important’ conversations just before bedtime that by the time we get to bed we are buzzing with adrenaline.
After a day like that, surrendering into a deep and nourishing sleep would be a tall order for anyone to achieve.
Imagine you had a toddler, and you gave them stimulating things to do, watch, eat and drink all day… if you filled their day with constant activity until late in the evening and then tried to get them to bed, that would not go well. It’s the same for us, we can’t expect to stimulate our brains and our bodies all day every day and have a great sleep when we want it, the body doesn’t work like that. We would be too ‘wired’ to sleep.
Paying attention to how we are as we move through the day and stopping the stimulation as early as we can, will support a great night’s sleep.
To pay attention to our bodies can tell us a lot. Having that feeling of being settled and steady for a few hours before bed makes such a difference to how we get into bed and what kind of sleep we will have. Then we get into bed to nourish and care for ourselves, not just to fall into a coma of exhaustion.
Falling into a coma of exhaustion is not the way to get a good night's sleep.
If we could consider that our waking time is as important as our sleeping time and look at how we need to move through the day, that would revolutionise how we live.
Maybe it’s time to be Breaking the Struggle with parenting and sleep so you can model that for your children. Looking at how we move through the day to make sure we are not Running on Empty, is a great place to start.
1. Antza C, Kostopoulos G, Mostafa S, Nirantharakumar K, Tahrani A. The links between sleep duration, obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Endocrinol. 2021 Dec 13;252(2):125-141. doi: 10.1530/JOE-21-0155. PMID: 34779405; PMCID: PMC8679843.
2. Comsa, M., Anderson, K., Sharma, A., Yadav, V., & Watson, S. (2022). The relationship between sleep and depression and bipolar disorder in children and young people. BJPsych Open, 8(1), E27. doi:10.1192/bjo.2021.1076
3. Gradisar, M., Kahn, M., Micic, G. et al. Sleep’s role in the development and resolution of adolescent depression. Nat Rev Psychol 1, 512–523 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-022-00074-8