How Is Good Sleep Like Falling in Love?
Good sleep and falling in love have a few things in common.
First, we can’t force either love or sleep to happen. When you fall in love, you feel a connection, and your natural chemistry takes over. Similarly, to fall asleep, we can only create the conditions that support our natural sleep system and then it unfolds naturally. When we feel connected, calm and content, the magic happens.
Thus, rather than trying to make yourself love or sleep, focus on what you need to feel connected and content. In CBT-I terms (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia), this is called eliminating sleep effort.
To love and to sleep, we also need to feel safe enough, as when we relax in the arms of a loved one, (even lose ourselves in the gaze of a pet). Relax into being at ease in your bed, and sleep will find you. Our ancestors had to be vigilant in the wild, but in our modern society, we don’t have fanged predators literally in our faces. Our threats are life stressors that stir up anxiety.
My clients often report that their arousal system goes on overdrive when they get into bed, worrying about what was or what’s to come. Using CBT-I we work together to retrain their night-time thought processes, so they can realistically assess in the present moment,“right here, right now, I’m OK.”
To sleep well, try adopting the open, playful mindset of love. Other ways to enhance both your love and sleep experiences include:
- Get up in the morning and be generous with yourself and your loved ones
- Get lots of sunlight and activity during the day
- Connect with others, especially over what you have in common
- Stay in the present moment
To sum up, stop trying to force sleep, focus on ways you can feel calm and content, let the natural process unfold, and you’ll create the conditions for a good night’s sleep.
Emily is a seasoned psychotherapist who specializes in treating insomnia and anxiety. She’s a complete sleep geek, and loves to help people find their sleep sweet spot. Contact Emily if sleep is a problem for you – she will help.