• Motivation and Philosophy


    1. Don't let a bad night define your sleep patterns permanently. A bad night is just that: One. Bad. Night. What counts are the 30 good nights.  After making strides and conquering sleeplessness, this attitude will avoid a relapse. No matter what we do, there will always be nights when we just can't fall asleep (life, hormones, Trump becomes President...etc).  Insomnia actually starts with one bad night's sleep consuming us (and this may also happen to those who are transitioning to no medication).  So now my worst case is that I end up with less sleep for one night, but I’m okay with that (knowing my body will naturally make up for it the next night, as long as I allow it!).  I’ll also spend the next day being even more cognizant of my choices. No alcohol. Natural sunlight.  More intense cardio (it helps with the fatigue, falling asleep faster, and with the anxiety that may keep you from sleeping on night two).  
    2. While I'm in bed, doing my breathing,  I also remind myself that there’s a spiritual reason I'm not sleeping right now and I just try to stay present and accept it.  I literally stay present by listening to Aly sleeping or the fan blowing (sound is one of the best ways to become present, it helps reduce the noise in your head).  Usually it's my last thought before sleeping.  And if you get really frustrated one night and feel like crying, then cry!  Crying releases oxytocin which will help you actually go to sleep.  
    3. I think one of the keys to making all this work is time management.  We will always have responsibilities to our kids, parents, friends, and jobs.  And we can’t turn our backs on these things, of course.  But you have to ask yourself honestly, how well are you managing your time?  If you have to make lunches for your kids, good reason. Homework with your kids, good reason.  Take care of an aging parent, good reason.  But if you’re on your sofa watching TV until midnight, knowing you have to wake up at 6, bad reason.  It takes time to make foods that are healthy for you, it takes time to exercise, and it takes time to give yourself 7-8 hours to sleep.  So honestly assess how you are using your time (and I totally get wanting down time to watch TV, but once time is managed better, you find ways to do that without sacrificing sleep :).
    4. Setting Realistic Expectations.  Over the course of, just life, we may need certain medications, whether you are sick, had surgery..etc.  I will take nyquil or mucinex when I’m sick.  But I try not to take it for more than a few days because I don’t want my body to get used to it. So with that said, expect to go through sleeplessness after taking medicine. If I do, I just think...okay this is normal.  And I know that in a couple of days I’ll go back to normal.  I think it’s important to have that expectations to avoid a relapse. After a few nights,  your body will just want to sleep and you’ll fall back to your normal sleep routine.  
    5. Store up on sleep!  I honestly don't think you can do this for more than a few days, but it helps when you are a little anxious about a meeting or a presentation or just seeing someone.  So if you can try to sleep more a few days before that, even if you are anxious the night before, because you have more sleep under your belt, you may function better for the event.  Here's some reasearch:
    6. Adrenaline! While I have succeeded with most of my psyche with different emotions related to sleep, the one that I find the hardest is adrenaline. When I'm just excited about something.  I can't allow myself to just go with the emotion and accept it (like with fear or anxiety), nor can I tell it to just calm down.  So for this one, I do stand by the 15 minute get up rule.  I get up, do something, find avenues to get oxytocin (to counter it), and go back to bed.  And try to breath it away (but this one is hard for me).  So I just remind myself that if I don't sleep, I'll probalby have a big rush all day and make up for it the next night.  And also try to store up on sleep the days before and give myself more gross sleeping time.     
    7. If you almost fall asleep but something wakes you up, look at it as a feat and not failure. It can be upsetting that it took so much work and here you are..up again.  That can agitate you and keep you from sleeping.  So if you stay positive and remind yourself that almost falling asleep means that your body is ready you will go right to sleep within minutes. It took a lot of frustrating nights for me to reprogram myself and finally understand this!
    8. Make people sleeping around you a positive, instead of negative.  I spent at least a year being consumed with anger when my husband fell asleep.  That anger only stressed me out more and kept me from sleeping.  Now I use his breathing or snoring as an advantage.  So if I’m not asleep before him, many times I will sync my breath to his or breath the same count as his snore and go right into sleep (I had previously asked him to sleep separately because I was so anxious about him falling asleep first).  After this realization, we started sleeping in the same room again.  And when you're syncing your breath:  Don’t think, Just sync!  
    9. We all have the right to sleep, so I never let parties, gatherings, or meetings take away what is my right.  I don’t just want to be the best version of me, I deserve to be.  Basically, I ask myself, “What’s your Sleep Self-Worth?”  Makes it easier for me not to let peer/family pressure take away from my goal.  And just easier to balance it all (obviously there are exceptions...weddings, big parties, holidays..but you get what I mean).  But even with that, I always try not to do too much over one weekend.  So if there are multiple social events, I’ll choose one (even if they are at different times).  Instead of ordering a second glass of wine, I’ll get non-caffeine tea (I actually keep them in my purse).  And if it’s just one of those crazy weekends, I make sure I carve some time for myself towards the end of the weekend or early the following week. And it's okay to take a personal day from work for that, if you can.   
    10. Remind yourself that you are wired to sleep.  It is natural to sleep!  So when we don’t sleep, it’s more psychosomatic than anything else.  My husband Sameer has a great example:  we can all type, but when we think about it, we won’t really know where the letters are.  Or blink.  Yes, as we’re getting older (especially women), hormones play a role and can interfere with quality sleep. So that’s why we need to start having good sleep habits early to have these tools for when we really need them.  Sleep also helps balance those hormones.  But like diet and exercise, commitment to good sleep has to be a lifestyle and not just a phase.  I know I won’t sleep that well a day or two before my period. Knowing that, I carve out 9 hours to sleep so I can get a net of 7-8 hours.  I make sure I get my cardio (especially on that day), stay outside more, avoid alcohol, avoid social events late at night...etc.  So we just have to be smart about our choices, especially when it comes to sleep. 
    11. Celebrate Victories!  I look at each time, each moment I conquer my psyche as a celebration.  So if I’m having some trouble falling asleep and use these tools (breathing, visualizing), and  successfully go back to sleep, I use that as a reminder to myself that not only can I do it, but that I have done it.  Using my own body to deliver calm to my nervous system is a big feat and should be celebrated every time that happens.  The confidence you build really helps avoid a relapse. 
    12. For lack of less-corny term, don’t give up.  I may have mentioned some before but below are some examples of what NOT to do.  
    • Stare at the ceiling
    • Keep eyes open in bed
    • Toss and turn when frustrated (try to stay calm and breathe)
    • Look at your phone (if you can, keep your phone out of your room)
    • Think, "Well I guess I can use this time to work, catch up on TV, or work out,"...and then executing.