Sleeping is Hard.

Go to Sleep!

Sleeping is hard. We all need it. But sometimes it just feels impossible to go to sleep.  I hear these kinds of things all the time: “There’s too much to do. Sleep is boing. It’s not productive. I can’t quiet my mind enough to sleep. I feel guilty doing nothing.”

I think part of the problem is that we as a culture (at least here in the USA, I can’t speak for everywhere) have glorified and romanticized the idea that being busy/productive is directly tied to your self worth. Too many times I’ve heard people brag about how little sleep they get, like it’s a badge of honor to be admired. Praising that behavior can encourage people to feel guilty for being rested. ‘I got 8 hours of sleep. I must not be working hard enough. I must not care enough…’

This. Is. Nonsense.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Your mind and body need sleep to recover and heal. If you don’t like to sleep because it’s not “productive”, letting your body heal and recover is productive! Something important is happening while you sleep, even if you don’t realize it! If you do feel guilty about going to sleep, ask yourself why that is. You could have some unhelpful little ghouls, demons- whatever you want to call them- telling you stories that just aren’t true.

With ADHD, it can be very hard to sleep because there’s just too much going on in your mind. It’s hard to get quiet, calm, and relaxed. ‘Sleep is boring, there’s a lot more entertaining things to do!’ Medication can sometimes help with this. Looking up ‘good sleep hygiene’ and following those steps might help with this. Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out what makes sleeping difficult for you:

  • What thought(s) keep me up at night? What are some steps I could take to resolve those stressors?
  • What does a healthy sleep schedule look like?
  • How do I know when I’m well rested?
  • What stories am I telling myself about sleeping? Are they true?
  • What’s boring about sleep?
  • When have I felt rested?
  • What have I tried in the past? What has or has not worked to get me to sleep? Why did I stop doing what worked?
  • Is there a physical reason I’m not sleeping? How could I resolve this?
  • Is my sleep schedule what I want it to be? What is my “dream” sleep schedule?

As someone with fibromyalgia, I know how important and fleeting sleep can be.  We need sleep so badly but it just. Doesn’t. Happen. No matter how tired I feel physically or mentally. The best tactics for getting sleep are the ones that you will do, and work for you. Just because something works for me, or lots of other people, doesn’t mean it will work for you, or you’ll like it and that’s okay. If there were one blanket solution for getting good sleep, we all would be doing it.

Every body is different. For example, I like having the TV on (with a sleep timer) something I’ve seen a million times to help quiet my mind to go to sleep. It’s something to listen to and focus on instead of the thoughts racing in my head, but not captivating enough to keep me awake. I guess I never outgrew the need for a bedtime story. It’s technically not good sleep hygiene, but it works for me. Some people can’t stand the TV on and need the total quiet. That works for them so that’s awesome.

Listen to your body. Do what you need. We all need to sleep, no matter what the people that brag about pulling all nighters say.  

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