Mind Over Sleep

Have you ever thought that your mind could be sabotaging your sleep? If you struggle with restless sleep, reading a good book while sipping on a cup of tea might not be the slumber solution that works for you. Worry, toxic thoughts and damaged nerve cells can all be hidden disruptors affecting your sleep.

Worrying is a vicious cycle that plays out in your mind. The loop can be endless and can amplify in many ways. You haven’t slept well in awhile, and every night, part of you tenses up as you slip under the covers, not looking forward to what you predict will be the same nightmare. Have you ever found yourself counting the hours you have left if you just fell asleep NOW. Minutes pass. Ok, if I fall asleep NOW, I’ll still be a functioning human being. Next thing you know, It’s morning and it seems like you haven’t had a wink of sleep. You worry about falling asleep, you worry about getting X number hours of sleep, you worry about how you’ll be able to tackle your day, and on and on. Sleep is important, but it shouldn’t stress you out. Instead of the endless worry wheel, don’t focus on not sleeping but instead decide to focus on more positive things. Enjoy the quiet time to reflect on new projects and future goals. You can break the worry cycle by choosing what takes place in your mind.

Unmanaged toxic thoughts can also contribute to restless sleep. If left unchecked these thoughts can grow and fester to the point where they can actually cause brain damage and mental health issues. Toxic thoughts need to be acknowledged and dealth with. Suppressing and ignoring them will not make them go away. There are steps you can take to identify and eliminate the root of these thoughts and replace them with new healthy thoughts. This mental management is an on-going process that may need external or professional help.* This will keep your brain healthy and will heal the damage done by the negative thought patterns which might be contributing to your restless sleep.

Going to bed with damaged nerve cells can affect how you sleep. When you wake up, you have thousands of baby nerve cells. They will grow into the network of your brain through deep intellectual thoughts. We are designed to learn and build our memory throughout the day which causes these nerve cells to grow, changing the structure of our brain. If this process doesn’t happen adequately, it causes waste in the brain and can affect how you sleep. To keep your brain functioning properly, it’s important to learn new things every day. Reading books, learning a new language, memorizing fun facts are just a few examples of ways to nurture and allow these new nerve cells to grow. Next time you go to sleep, you can think about all the new things you have learned and how we are wonderfully made, right down to the baby nerve cells.

Our body works in so many wonderful ways. In order for it to work optimally, we need to take good care of it. What we think can absolutely affect our physical body. Getting rid of worry, dealing with toxic thoughts, and healing damaged nerve cells are important housekeeping tasks that need our daily attention. Your mind controls your brain and your body so it makes sense that it can also help you sleep well.  


* Additional Help: cognitive behavioral therapy


We spend one third of our lives in a state of sleep or trying to attain that restful state1. Not sleeping well may not seem like a big deal but chronic loss of sleep can cause a panoply of problems. Physical health, mental health, productivity, arguably every facet of our lives can be either improved or damaged by the amount of sleep we get.

A continual lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, mood disorders and impaired immune function. While it may not seem like much goes on while we sleep, our bodies are quite busy repairing and managing the complexities that make us function optimally. Regulating hormones is one of those tasks overseen during adequate quality sleep. Too little sleep can affect this delicate process and cause a harmful imbalance. For example, when the stress hormone cortisol and the glucose regulating hormone insulin are too high, risk of weight gain and diabetes appear2. Since chronic sleep issues cause undue stress to the body, physical and mental exhaustion can easily exacerbate hypertension, depression and anxiety as the tired body struggles to keep up with all the daily demands. Sleep deprivation also suppresses the immune system so remember, a well rested body is better equipped to fight and prevent serious health problems3. 

Sleep deprivation issues extend beyond the individual, especially in instances where decreased productivity, errors in the worplace, or preventable accidents occur. Cost of fatigue in the workplace, measured by poor performance, absenteeism, accidents and injuries clocks in at a whopping $136 billion loss4. Numerous demanding jobs require long hours and extreme attention to detail. Fatigue can impair critical decision abilities resulting in devastating consequences. Medical errors contribute to a shocking number of deaths each year. Many high profile accidents such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and the Chernobyl disaster, are all partially attributed to errors due to sleep deprivation. Long shifts, night shifts, and double shifts, can all make it even harder for some people to get good quality sleep. Driver fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel cause an estimated 100,000 crashes each year in the United States5. Chronic sleep deprivation is a consequential problem that requires more attention especially since it doesn’t just affect the individual but can result in fatal accidents.

Sleeping is an indispensable part of our lives and ensures that our bodies function optimally. For some, it may seem like a waste of time, but your body needs that time to repair and heal itself from the day’s activities, physically and mentally. Prioritizing a good night’s sleep is just as important as any other healthy habit. The consequences of insufficient sleep are just too great to dismiss. 

Did you Know?

Nurses working 12.5-hour shifts report committing more than three times as many medical errors than those working 8.5-hour shifts. 

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