By Jessica White, Sleep Educator
Recently a client told me that she and her husband had stopped talking about how bad their sleep was. She went on to share that she had noticed a shift in how her kids were falling asleep and that overall things felt calmer.
She thought that maybe because the focus had moved away from the negative, and towards the positive, things were getting better.
This story made my heart sing as it highlights the importance of thinking like a good sleeper. Read on to learn how shifting your mindset just might be the thing you need to get better sleep!
5 Tips to Shift Your Mindset Towards Better Sleep
1) Focus on the positive and disregard the negative.
Praise your children (and your teens!) when they sleep well. If your toddler napped for 2 hours, celebrate! If your 7-year old fell asleep without you lying down with them, celebrate!
Whatever you are prioritizing, make time to commend your kiddos for their good work and if it went off the rails, ignore it. Everyone loves attention, but remember to make it positive.
2) Get out of your own way.
You don’t need to work hard (or buy anything) to get better sleep. If you are, that could be a red flag that you are getting in your body’s way of doing something it was designed to do.
Start with the basics – a consistent schedule, and only use your bed for sleep.
3) Trust the process.
Whether you are putting a sleep plan into place for a child or are being more intentional about your own sleep habits, be confident in your decision and remember that change takes time. With trust, we can relax, one of the ingredients for good sleep.
4) Remain calm.
No one sleeps perfectly every night. There are going to be some rough nights, but remind yourself that it’s ok to be awake, you have done it before and managed to get through the day.
Our brains and bodies need to be relaxed to slip into sleep, so if you find yourself (or your kids) winding up, do what you need to do to settle the nervous system – a 20-second hug, breathing exercise, body scan, listening to a story, and then try again.
5) Practice positive self-talk.
If you catch yourself feeling frustrated or anxious, or having sleep-interfering thoughts, practice shifting the thought to something more accepting.
For example, “He’s going to be up all night” shifts to “I can’t believe he’s still awake, but it’s okay, it’ll pass. We’ve managed before.”
“I have to do something to get some sleep” shifts to “My body will take care of me. I just need to get out of its way.”
Remember it is absolutely normal to have disrupted sleep. The average adult wakes up 12 times a night, but wakings are often not long enough to be remembered. This is all about practice, not perfection.