A Better Way to Get More Sleep

I get it. It’s not really about sleep.  You already know how important sleep is.  And you probably have a lot of mini-muscles in you that would confirm you could do a better job getting sleep if you wanted to.

But there is something… someone, a little more important that needs attention before sleep can happen.  You.

As a new entrepreneur, I have a wide-open day, especially with the onset of summer and a very loose schedule.  It doesn’t mean I’m less busy, just less scheduled.  The “constraints” I set are mostly self-determined.   As I seek to explore what it means to re-anchor my health habits (read that post here) I know there is a lot “in” me, but there is more to this sleep habit picture.


Because when you finally get to sit down on the sofa to do absolutely anything you want sleep isn’t necessarily the first thing on your mind, and you kind of want to blow off sleep all together, if you could.  You see this moment in your head, but, then there it is again, another should.

You should get to bed.  You should get some rest.

That appeal or desire to set in motion a set of habits that will take you to bed sooner, or earlier for all the rest you know you need holds zero appeal. Let’s just be honest about that.  And so another evening goes by and sleep happens when you finally drag yourself to bed.  (Hands up if you’ve ever felt too tired to put yourself to sleep!)

Because suddenly, all expectations of you vanish.  Dishes, laundry, kids, projects can all be left for later.  So, whether you’ve done it all or not, you hit a moment in your day when you realize how exhausted you are and the expectations lift.  And this is the moment you land on the sofa.

What expectations do others hold of you?
I can almost feel that moment in the evening when what people need and want and expect of me is no longer present and I can simply relax.  Meals made & eaten, kitchen cleaned, laundry done, reports submitted, endless mini kid demands, the ping of your phone signaling your attention.  It can be incessant.

Your body feels the heaviness of the day, the focus on what kids, and a partner, co-workers and peers need of you.  And in your heart, you know you want to be there for them all, so you try All Day Long.  With Enduring Commitment.

And then when you land on the sofa at the end of the night, Netflix on, or tablet in hand, with your favourite snack it all lifts.  Pure bliss.

Can you name the expectations others hold of you?

And, what expectations do you hold of yourself?
And this is where it gets interesting. It isn’t just the expectations that others hold of us, it’s also how we expect ourselves to be.  We work to show up in a certain way, be the kind of friend others need us to be, model the patience and care to others that we believe all need, no deserve. Expectations to be friendly, orderly, attentive to everything and everyone. Oh heck, let’s shoot for perfection.

Holding form is grueling work.  Meeting (our own highly set) standards is hard work. Because we care how we show up in the world.  A whole damn lot.  Because there just isn’t another way to be. So, enter all throughout our day an internal evaluation of standards met, and standards unmet.  And there’s the rub. Standards unmet = guilt, frustration and disappointment with self.  We fail ourselves and the emotional residue lingers.

Can you name the expectations you hold of you?

Landing on the proverbial end-of-day sofa becomes that chance to relax what we expect of ourselves.  And we make small promises to ourselves that we’ll do better tomorrow.  That we’ll keep on trying.  We catch a glimpse of our enduring focus to improve which makes way for a nice end of day treat to look after ourselves.

How do you treat you at the end of the day?
I can feel just how hard it is to even think about another standard or expectation to get sleep at the end of a long day.  I feel it too. This can be a hard habit to instill.  Before attending to sleep, there is merit in getting curious about what you do for you at the end of the day, and to know what needs of yours have been left behind.  It may be exactly what is needed before getting to that foundational habit of sleep.

So, make a list of what you reach for. The idea isn’t to judge nor evaluate the merits of what gets on the list. Rather to explore how they can help you understand what’s missing and what you may need.

My regular go-to’s include: reading, mostly non-fiction (learn baby learn), journaling, social… especially Facebook (read: scrolling and scrolling and scrolling….) and sometimes food.  Add in the occasional cuddle with hubby which includes his go-to of Jimmy Fallon.  Yes, some comic relief.

And the thing is I can give myself a lot of permission to do these things until late at night.  Until the Big Expectation of I should go to bed nudges me to bed so I can rest and start all over.

What are your end of day “go to” choices?

I know you want to do your best.  My heart holds your beautiful intent.  So I invite you to click here for a little practice in support of tuning into else you may need at the end of your day. Let me know how it serves you by leaving a comment below.

If you know someone else who struggles with getting enough sleep please pass this blog post along.  They may be living under the weight of expectation and need a little care. xo

Susan Doerksen CastroComment