Train Your Brain for Sleep
You and I both know sleep is important. Unfortunately, when we worry about sleeping, it can cause more restlessness or agitation.
The good news: you aren’t actually in charge of falling asleep.
The more you force yourself to “try” to sleep, the more your brain reacts against relaxation. Trying to make something happen can often alert your deeper mind to respond as if there is an immediate threat.
My new 3-Step Formula for Sleep video includes key pieces for how to fall asleep. The full Sleep Formula is transcribed below, so scroll down after the video.
As you will discover, the most important step is – DON’T TRY!
Instead, allow your brain to sleep you. Here’s how to prepare:
- Warm, relaxing bath
- Stimulant-free tea
- Limit screen time 1-2 hours before bed
- Good, supportive pillow and clean sheets
- Darkened room with a cooler temperature
- Earplugs and eye masks
- Don’t look at the clock, better yet- turn off all devices or leave them in another room
- Place a notepad next to your bed to make notes if needed in the middle of night
3-Step Formula for Sleep
I want you to recall that very exact, precise moment when you fell asleep. Remember it? And the answer is, you probably don’t remember it.
The reason for that is you’re not actually in charge of sleeping you.
Nope, just like you’re not in charge of when you eat a sandwich. That’s not your job description. You’re not in charge of sleeping you.
However, many of us who have challenges getting to sleep. We’ll often think thoughts throughout the day or towards the evening as it’s progressing of, “I hope I sleep. I hope it’s not like when I didn’t sleep.”
You gotta be fully supported for sleep to find you, but you’re thinking thoughts that we would call useful, “Oh, I need to pay my car bill tomorrow. Oh, did I call my aunt back? Oh, I’m really wanting to process that conversation at work today. Let me think about that.”
These are things that are actually pretty useful at times, but not when you’re laying in bed trying to get to sleep. Trying, right?
Instead, I don’t want you to try.
Instead, I want you to do number two of my three step formula, which is think useless thoughts. This is why counting sheep is so effective or has been for some people because you get to 25, boom, you’re asleep. It’s useless.
I like to use something from nature, a visualization from nature. My husband can think about a river flowing and that’s what can get him to sleep. Some people use a forest, some people use waves rolling in from the ocean. There’s a high mountain lake that I once went to so I can visualize it really well and it’s very peaceful there, so it has a lot of ease and peace for me personally.
In my mind, as I’m laying there on my bed, I think about the water rolling over the top of that rock and then receding and I look at, in my mind, the darkness of the rock because of the water that was just on it. Sometimes I’ll think about the sun hitting the water and the glint of water with light. That’s really important. You want to choose something that’s very peaceful for you.
If you don’t have a good visualizer, that’s okay. You can think of a pleasant smell. Lavender, for instance. You could think of a sound like water or gentle breeze or birds or even have that sensory input in playing in your room.
Number three is that you have this sense of peacefulness around getting to sleep and when useful thoughts show up, I notice, “Oh look, Celeste, you’re thinking about something useful that you’re going to be doing tomorrow.”
You need an attitude of, “Oh wow, let me go back to what I was doing.” Because your brain, my brain, your brain is wired for threat. That deeper part, the automatic part of your brain is wired for threats.
If you go like this, “Oh no, I’m thinking about something I’m not supposed to be.” Your deeper brain is going to interpret that, “Oh-oh, something is a threat.” So you don’t want to do that.
Instead, you want to have a sense of an open hand, “Oh look, I’m thinking useful thoughts. Let’s go back to the lake and the water.” Just like that. That’s how I get to sleep. I don’t try to sleep me because I know I’m not in charge of that. You’re not in charge of that.
Do what is most effective, which is prepare the deeper part of your brain, the part of your brain that is wired for a threat, to get the message that nothing is threatening here. There’s nothing threatening about thinking about a river or the ocean or a lake or a forest. Nothing threatening, and that is when sleep will find you.
Look for more supportive sleep tools in the coming weeks.