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The Magic of Setting Realistic Expectations

Feb 14, 2024
 

If you want to improve your sleep in the long run, you need to set realistic goals for yourself. And these goals shouldn’t include sleep duration. You are probably wondering why that would be, after all it’s what everyone talks about! What other way is there to measure sleep?

 

If you want to make long-term improvements in sleep, it’s really important to set realistic and appropriate goals, and it’s really not helpful if you set sleep duration as this goal. For example, a lot of clients I work with will tell me they want to get 7 hours of sleep, or they want to get 8 hours of sleep, and this is really not helpful because (first of all) we can’t control how many hours we get on a given night.

 

Second of all, if you’ve had insomnia for an extended period of time and you’re trying to get a certain number of hours of sleep, that’s actually counterproductive and it can make it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep.

The More Frustrated You Feel, The Further Away You Push Sleep

 

Afterall, how frustrating does it feel, trying to control something that you actually have no control over? In your experience, how well do you sleep when you are frustrated? I’m going to guess not very.

 

Another important aspect of this is that (not only is attempting to control sleep frustrating) but sleep itself changes over time so it’s not always realistic or natural to sleep “like you used to.”

The Amount of Sleep We Need Changes With Age 

 

In general, we need more sleep when we are younger and less sleep when we are older. So if you’ve had insomnia for, say, 20-30 years, which isn’t uncommon, you may have a goal to sleep like you did 20 years ago.

 Unfortunately, if that’s the case, it’s likely that you won’t be able to sleep the way you did 20, 30, or even 50 years ago, because the way you sleep now is going to be very different from the way you slept 20, 30 or 50 years ago, and you may be setting yourself up to fail by setting yourself an unrealistic or even impossible goal.

Sleep Quality is More Important Than Sleep Quantity 

 

When it comes to improving sleep for the long run, I like to emphasize the importance of improving sleep quality, and that’s where cognitive behavioral science can be very helpful, along with nervous system rebalancing, because it can lead to a more consolidated sleep.

 

You build sleep drive to help you fall asleep at the beginning of the night.

 

You learn techniques to reduce arousal and worry throughout the night so that it becomes easier to fall asleep at night and you start to fall asleep more quickly.

 

You spend less time awake throughout the night when you begin to find it easier to fall back asleep when you wake up during the night.

 

All of these improve sleep quality. You sleep better when you're less concerned about sleep, and yes, if you have the option to sleep more, then it will be easier for your body to produce more sleep. However, this is actually a secondary benefit.

 

If you make improving sleep quality your primary goal, it will always be much more successful than anything else in terms of sleep duration and sleep quality will improve. If you have the ability to sleep more, your body naturally will produce more sleep

 

If you would like to learn more or book an individual session, please visit the Work With Me page or enroll in the 30 Day Beyond Sleep Course

In the meantime, I would like to leave you with this important message. You are not broken! You are whole, perfect, and healthy exactly as you are, and you CAN sleep!

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