It’s a scientific fact – insomniacs think about sleep more negatively than people who sleep well. If you have insomnia, you’re more likely to have thoughts about not being about to fall asleep and all the negative consequences that come as a result.
Now that’s not a groundbreaking revelation I know. People who fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow are obviously going to have a much more positive opinion of sleep than people who take hours to fall asleep because it works so much better for them.
But what is a groundbreaking revelation is the finding from a study in Canada. Researchers found that yes, people who have insomnia have more negative beliefs about sleep. But more importantly, by doing nothing other than working to remove those negative beliefs and replacing them with more positive ones, researchers were able to dramatically improve their sleep. And the more negative beliefs the researchers were able to change to positive, the better sleep became.
So if you could transplant the beliefs of a natural deep sleeper into your brain, your sleep would dramatically improve. In this article, we’re going to uncover five tips to gain a much more positive mindset that will work to improve your sleep.
1. Don’t consider yourself as at risk from insomnia
The media is full of negative statistics about sleep, such as:
- College students have problems falling asleep
- Shift workers have a broken sleep schedule
- Elderly people have reduced sleep quality
Don’t buy into these generalized studies. They’re worded as if to suggest that all college students, shift workers and elderly people don’t sleep as well as the general population. The truth is that anyone in these categories can learn to sleep just as well as everyone else, or even better.
If you belong to any one of the groups that are more at risk from insomnia, understand that you’re not just another average person. You’re different. You’ve seeked out websites to help you sleep better. You’re far more committed to your sleep than the average person. These statistics don’t apply to you.
2. Don’t see yourself as an insomniac
If you have a cold, you don’t call yourself a coldiac. So why would you call yourself an insomniac if you have insomnia? Insomnia is just a symptom of bad sleep habits. It’s not who you are as a person. Don’t let a few sleep problems define you.
Identifying yourself as an insomniac becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The more you think you can’t sleep, the more you won’t sleep. As time goes on, the more you identify with being an insomniac, the more you won’t sleep. Continually lower expectations cause continually lower results.
No one is born an insomniac. We all have the natural inborn ability to sleep. It’s just our own bad habits that get in the way, and all bad habits can be changed.
3. Don’t allow your friends to call you an insomniac
There’s something in science called the subject-expectancy effect. If a researcher or a patient expects a certain outcomes, they will unknowingly work to produce that outcome.
Take for example the 3 minute mile. Running a mile in 3 minutes was widely believed to be an impossibility. Humans just can’t run that fast, said well respected scientists. That was until 1954 when Roger Bannister ran the mile in just under 3 minutes for the first time in history. Since then, the mile record has been beaten by almost 17 seconds. Running a mile in 3 minutes is now considered to be a standard by professional runners, now that no one is telling them they can’t do it.
If people expect you not to sleep well, it subconsciously re-enforces the idea that, maybe they’re right, you can’t sleep well. And as a result, you won’t!
If you instead cultivate the belief that you are a natural deep sleeper, then you will be able to become one. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
4. Have a deep inner knowing that you can sleep well
Research shows that students who believe that they’ll do well in exams do much better than those who don’t. Also, the greater the expectation placed on people, the greater they’ll perform. This is known as the Pygmalion effect.
Moore’s law is a good example of this. Named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, he predicted that computing power would double every 2 years. A strong expectation, but it’s used as a goal by the computer industry. As a result, this 1965 prediction has held true to the present day.
If you believe that you can sleep well and have high expectations of yourself, you will subconsciously work to make it a reality.
One very important point that has to be made – never track how much sleep you’re getting at night by looking at a clock. Research shows that people who do this wildly underestimate how much sleep they’re getting and just end up stressing themselves out.
Instead, have faith in your natural ability to fall asleep, without keeping yourself awake by looking for evidence of the fact. Every living animal on this earth can sleep well, and you’re no exception.
5. Examine the truth behind your negative thinking
The problem with a lot of the negative thoughts about sleep is not just that they’ll make you stressed and keep you awake, it’s that they’re plain wrong. For example:
One bad night’s sleep is enough to throw my sleep off track for the whole week -Not true. You’ll probably fall asleep faster the next night if you go to bed at your normal time because you’ll be extra sleepy.
If I don’t get my 8 hours sleep my day will be ruined – Not everyone needs 8 hours every day. Even so, the worst part about not getting enough sleep is that groggy feeling. In terms of performance, we humans can cope surprisingly well with the odd bad night’s sleep.
I’m doomed to be an insomniac forever, medication is my only hope – Insomnia is just the result of a few bad sleeping habits. If you can find them and replace those bad habits them with good habits, your insomnia will just fade away.
If you’re prone to any of these negative thoughts, even a little bit, examine whether there’s any truth behind them. If there isn’t, just let go of the thoughts. Learning how sleep works really helps with this. It’s not half as mysterious and unattainable as you may think.
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Replacing negative thoughts and beliefs about sleep needn’t be hard, but it makes a heck of a difference. By breaking out of the cycle of stressful negative thoughts, you’ll find it so much easier to drift off to sleep.
Target a few negative thoughts a day whenever they appear and replace them with much more accurate positive ones. In time, you’ll have the mindset of a natural deep sleeper and the results to match.