How your nervous system affects your sleep and how to deal with it
This blog post was created by our Sleep Coach Eva Nyhagen.
So if you feel tired and wired around bedtime it's most likely because your nervous system is overactivated and you are not able to relax the way you need to in order to fall asleep.
What happens when you push your feelings/ emotions away during the day?
Everything that you haven’t dealt with during the day will come back to you during the night. If you are having different feelings and emotions that are coming up during daytime, but you are using various ways and mechanisms not to deal with it, to avoid feeling your feelings by distracting yourself or not sorting out your thoughts, those feelings, thoughts and emotions will most likely come back during night.
Your unconscious mind will either wake you up in the middle of the night or you will have problems falling asleep as it comes back to you when you are finally in bed, in the silence with your own thoughts and emotions.
What can you do to avoid sleepless nights due to feelings & emotions?
What you can start with is
journaling during the daytime, set aside some time every day to write down all your thoughts, your worries, connect with your emotions, and even make a list of your tasks
Sometimes your anxious thoughts just need to be respected and expressed by getting them out of your head and down on a piece of paper. To explore what’s fueling it and what it wants you to know, also helps you to take a step back from your worries. During this process it is important to also write down if you have solutions, and when to do it, or when you will come back with a solution. Just get it out of your system, so it doesn’t come back to you during the night.
Have a dialogue with your nervous system and ask what it needs right now. This is another journal exercise that helps you to connect your thoughts to your feelings so you can take a step back from your thoughts. You may discover that your nervous system wants you to take a break, meditate, or be in nature and get some fresh air.
Remember to observe your thoughts doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to become these thoughts or that your thoughts are your identity. You can identify them, find out what's underneath, and through recognizing them you can stop or challenge your thoughts. This is an important part of cognitive therapy for insomnia.
Try to be active during daytime, but always focus on having healthy boundaries and practice self-care and being kind with yourself. Before bedtime try to notice if you have tension in your body and take a moment to release and relax. Mentally you can focus on the difference between the tension in your muscle and when it's relaxed. Continue tensing and then releasing various muscle groups in your body, from your hands, legs, shoulders, or feet.
Notice your breath and do some breathing exercises, deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to help decrease stress.
To feel safe and to have a relationship with yourself that gives you the feeling of safety is important to calm down. If you are having constant worrying thoughts, it will activate your nervous system. To get the feeling of safety you need to listen to your body, connect with your body, as the feeling of safety lies within your body. If you are feeling unsafe, the brain gets activated to protect you, and then you disconnect from your body. Anxiety can feel like it comes out of nowhere, but that’s rarely the case. By increasing bodily awareness, either through meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or just regularly checking in with how you’re feeling, you can catch the early signs of tension in your body.
It's important to process the underlying feelings and emotions that lie within your body. What is it that you are not dealing with in your life? You need to become aware of what is lying underneath, what is stopping you from being able to relax and sleep and try to understand what is causing your state of overactivated nervous system.
We cannot change the past, but we can change the way you relate to it. Change the inner voice that makes you feel worried or that attacks you. And you can change the way you respond to your feelings and emotions. Talking with a professional therapist regarding this can also be very helpful in this process.
Feel free to contact me and book a session where we can work together with your sleep problems.