Should I be concerned about my sleep? Yes and No
Updated: Mar 11
Today, I was asked a very tricky question: "Should I be concerned about my sleep?" Why is it tricky? Because it's both yes and no.
If I tell you that you shouldn't be concerned, you may down-prioritize sleep and keep doing things that negatively affect its quality (for example, sleep in on weekends). And if I tell you that you should be concerned, you might develop insomnia. Because chronic insomnia is maintained by worrying about sleep and trying to do something about it.
I also think that this an excellent example of how the same thought can serve us well and not serve us at all, depending on the circumstances, and how we should relate to the thought accordingly. (And if you simply want to know whether to be concerned about your sleep, skip to the last paragraph).
"Insufficient sleep makes me sick" is a useful thought if you choose, day after day, to go to bed too late or wake up too early in your attempts to be efficient. You CAN sleep, but won't let yourself. In this case, taking this thought seriously will serve you well.
Thinking "Insufficient sleep makes me sick" doesn't serve you at all if you spend plenty of time in bed, but CANNOT sleep. It will probably make your insomnia worse. It is particularly useless if you are already treating your insomnia. In this case, it would help to gain some distance from that thought. Realize that it is just a product of your mind's activity. Tell your mind, "Thanks, mind, but I got that covered". And choose not to give the thought all of your attention. (Kind of like when someone shares their opinion and you couldn't care less. Yes, you are allowed to dismiss what your mind tells you).
You cannot control how long it will take to fall asleep. Or how many times you will wake up. Or how many hours you will be able to sleep tonight. It is what it is. You can create the best conditions for sleep to occur and with that, your job is done. Trust your body to do the rest.