The Power Of A Good Night’s Sleep

Feb 24, 2021

The Power Of A Good Night’s Sleep

I was on a Zoom call last night with a potential client and we were talking about the major issue affecting her life, which was chronic sleep disturbance. This is one of the most common symptoms that I see in my work with stressed-out professionals and business owners and she was no different.

Common Findings

We do see variations in how sleep disturbances present themselves but there are similarities in the vast majority of them, so I just wanted to spend some time breaking this down for you, my lovely readers. For most people, come the end of a busy day, a feeling of being tired will cause them to naturally drift off once in bed. But it’s later in the night when things get really difficult.

An Unwanted Wakey Wakey Time

The classic issue that I see again and again is that, after perhaps 3 – 4 hours of sleep, we can suddenly find ourselves awake and find returning to sleep a difficult task to manage.

What follows can be several hours of tossing and turning without any return to sleep, or continued short bursts of sleep followed by wakeful periods. For one or two nights this is completely fine and pretty much to be expected if we are going through a short-term stressful situation. But once this starts to occur for more than a few nights each month, you’ve got yourself a chronic sleep problem.

It’s A Real Problem

It’s tempting to think “ah, well, it’s only a little disruptive sleep” but the impact of long-term sleep interruption is potentially very damaging. To start with we start the day with an energy deficit. Sleep is a powerful process where our bodies can begin to regulate, repair and regenerate. We process the past waking day and attempt to get the rest necessary for the next one. When we don’t sleep well we are already behind the curve and if we stack night after night of disturbed sleep on top of each other then we find ourselves with a problem on our hands. We tend to be short-tempered, lack motivation and reach for caffeine or sugary food to keep us going. We can get brain fog, losing clarity of thought and becoming more stressed out by simple tasks.

The Cascade Effect

This has a cascade effect on our bodies, causing increased heart rate, upping our respiration and generally moving into fight/ flight mode. For every hour that we are in fight/ flight we are releasing glucocorticoids including cortisol and adrenaline which will only mean that we will struggle for sleep again later that night, should we fail to move out of the stress response and into rest and repair.

Oh, The Irony!

The other problem is that the less we sleep, the more we worry about not sleeping, causing a negative feedback loop where we don’t sleep because we are worried about not being able to sleep! We all know that the thoughts we have in a dark room in the middle of the night are often far more dramatic than ones we might have during the waking day and we can end up becoming more anxious about situations that might not be as bad as they seem at 3 am. All of this adds up to a pretty miserable situation. But there are definitely ways to help alleviate this problem and, best of all, some of them are relatively simple to accommodate into normal


Lower Your Stress Response

Firstly we need to get out of the constant fight/ flight hyperarousal states – and for those of you reading these posts over the past year or two will know my love of breathwork to counter stress. Circular, or box, breathing is a powerful tool that tells the body to relax and move us out of the adrenaline and cortisol response that can cause sleep problems when continually on. There are many meditative practices that can lower the stress response and promote relaxation, with lots of the apps out there having meditations aimed solely at getting you into a sleep state. Exercise is a great tool for improving sleep as well, first by helping you burn off some of the effects of adrenaline and cortisol and secondly by promoting a feeling of well-being through the release of endorphins.


Finally, I always recommend the 10,3,2,1 approach for anyone struggling with sleep issues.

Ten hours before bed – no more caffeine.

Three hours before bed – no more alcohol.

Two hours before bed – no more food.

And one hour before bed – no more blue light.

The last one is particularly relevant and the recent research into blue light, our eyes, our nervous system and sleep cycles is so overwhelmingly in favour of reducing blue light that we’d all do well to think long and hard about how much we use screens in our lives generally. Anyway, that’s all for another day. For now, if you’re struggling with your sleep, try to take on board some of what I have mentioned above.

Why Not Get On A Call With Me Soon?

As always, should you be struggling with all the curve balls life might be throwing your way and you’re fed up and want a change, you’d do a lot worse than to jump on a call with me and get some clarity about just what you can do to help yourself move powerfully forward. These calls are complimentary, last about an hour and will definitely be the best hour you’re likely to spend before your Zoom office Christmas party. 2020 eh, just a weird year.

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Look forward to speaking to some of you soon.