When learning to improve your habits to achieve better sleep, there are really two realms that can be improved upon: Physical and Emotional. We have looked at the physical things you can do in previous posts (1, 2, & 3) to sleep better at night. Today, we will look at some of the emotional ways to improve your sleep.
First of all, I want you to know that emotional improvements are harder to face, and can take a long time to achieve.
However, once they are achieved, they will have a much greater impact on your overall sleep, and will be much longer lasting and overall more effective.
We started with the Physical improvements (in previous posts) because I wanted you to have some quick wins. I wanted to show you that you have the power to control how well you sleep. Physical solutions to sleeplessness can be done immediately, and in a short time you see the results.
Now that you are (hopefully) practicing these physical things, you are seeing improvement in your sleep. Well, it’s time to take it up a notch. It’s time to start working on Emotional Improvements. The therapist in me is about to come out. So let's get started...
1: Forgiving Others.
Did you know it takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge? So much so that it disallows you to rest peacefully. The things people have done to hurt your, especially in childhood, can stay with us for a very long time. Working on letting go of this anger will allow you to let go of the huge burden you are carrying around.
I’m not saying that what someone may have done to you is right. I’m not even say they deserve your forgiveness. But you do deserve to be able to no longer have to carry this around. You forgiving them is not for them; it’s for you.
Think of it this way: if you walk around carrying a grudge, and you think about this person, it makes you mad (or hurt, etc). They are controlling you. They win. Just the sound of their very name causes an emotional reaction in you.
If you choose to forgive them, you are choosing to take that control back. They don’t even need to know you’ve forgiven them (though sometimes that is very powerful for the forgiver). Again, they may not deserve your forgiveness, but you deserve to not be controlled by this either.
Forgive them, let it go; you will sleep better.
2: Fixing Relationships.
This certainly goes hand in hand with number one. Strained or broken relationships can wound us. Maybe someone has wronged us. Maybe we have wronged them. Maybe a little bit of both.
Whatever happened, the result is a broken relationship. Whenever you see or hear about this person, you feel that knot in your stomach. You probably won’t sleep well that night. Maybe you don’t many nights because of this. It’s time to fix this.
If you’ve wronged them, humble yourself, and go apologize. If they’ve wronged you, forgive them. If you hurt each other, then in the words of Emerson Eggerich, may the most mature one between you apologize first.
If it is a friendship, you should fix it. If it is a parent-child relationship, certainly try to fix it. If it is a former romantic relationship, I’m not saying you have to get back together. But you should at least try to mend the fences.
There is one caveat, however. If there is a situation where it is dangerous to repair a relationship, such as cases of domestic violence, or extreme emotional abuse, do not re-engage with this person. This will only serve to hurt you anew. Instead, work on forgiving them, but do not risk additional injury.
3: Deal with Resentment.
Dwelling on mistakes we have made in the past can often have long-term effects on us. Overcoming these resentments can make you feel more at peace, and again, help you sleep better.
We’ve all made mistakes. Most of the time we learn from them and move on. Sometimes, though, we really screw up. Maybe our futures, or someone we love, or our reputation were severely affected. Whatever it is, we resent it, and we hold on to that resentment like a drowning swimmer not wanting to give up his rock collection.
Let it go. Forgive yourself.
We talked a few minutes ago about forgiving others. Sometimes forgiving ourselves is the hardest person to forgive. Maybe you don’t feel like you deserve forgiveness: you do. Often times, I’ve spoken with clients who have harmed someone and that person has forgiven them. But the client still cannot forgive themselves. They remain plagued by their actions or words, and really struggle with it. Not only is this mental anguish, but it most certainly hurts their ability to sleep soundly.
If you are plagued by resentment, your sleep will be crap. Forgive yourself. Let it go.
4: Seek Help.
A lot of what I spoke to you about today can be pretty heavy stuff. And I'm only scratching the surface with each of these. Books have been written on each topic alone. Today's post is just to help you get the ball rolling.
As is clear by now, the emotional adjustments needed to improve sleep are a lot harder, and take a lot longer than the physical ones. Sometimes, people can just power through and work through these things. Others need some help. And that is okay!
If you really want to fall asleep faster, then you should start by getting some of the wreckage of your past life cleared away. Forgive others, forgive yourself, and fix broken relationships. Some people will do this through therapy. Some will talk to their pastor, church, or synagogue. Some just work things out verbally with friends and other people that they can trust. You may have to work through a variety of potential issues. But it is worth it!
Honestly, seeking help in working through these issues will not only help you sleep better, but will give you an overall better quality of life.
While I’m committed to helping you sleep, a good friend, spiritual leader, or therapist can help guide you to an overall better life.
Happy Zzz's... and happy life.