SO HERE we are on a Tuesday morning, fresh from the announcement by our President that we’re going to be on a coronavirus lockdown. This is surreal and real, and it’s going to take time to sink in. Never has it been more important to keep it real, doing one day at a time. Or one night at a time, if you have a sleep problem!

We are all in this boat (okay, maybe more like hot soup) together, and everyone is being encouraged to do their bit to make a difference. So what I’m going to be doing, is to post a series of coping tips and resources I’m finding useful – to keep going, keep sane, and keep it real despite the chaos we find ourselves in!

The big sleep problem

One of the issues I work with quite often, is the big sleep problem. You can’t fall asleep … you get up in the night to go to the toilet and now you’re lying there, trying to drift off but it’s not happening … or you’re up with the first of the birds, doing your best to grab another hour or two of rest … but frustration, irritation, despair are all you’re getting.

You also know the other feeling – the alarm is blaring, you feel exhausted, but another day is starting and it’s time to get up. Exhausted, stressed, maybe a little panicked because working (even remotely) or facing a day of entertaining kids with serious cabin fever, you have a full schedule and you’re dead tired – because you just couldn’t solve your sleep problem the night before.

Counting sheep to put you to sleep

An old remedy we’ve probably all heard about, and which has certainly popped up in cartoons and film over the years, is “counting sheep to put you to sleep”. While many of us city dwellers probably don’t get to spend a lot of time watching sheep jump over hedges, let alone understand the need to count them, the underlying principles are quite sound.

Consider this – what’s the difference between your mind spinning with thoughts … worries … the to do list … and your mind being focused on just one thing? The trick is to get yourself focused on that one non-stimulating thing, to the point where your mind can slow down, switch off, and begin it’s drift to the land of nod … (So no, I am not recommending fixation on that one series you’ve been binge watching! Non-stimulating, routine, mundane. What?)

If sheep don’t solve your sleep problem, try this countdown

So maybe you don’t want to count sheep. That’s ok, because anything that’s routine and relatively boring – yes, the opposite of exciting or panicking – is going to do the trick in solving your sleep problem. If you like numbers, or don’t want to get too creative, choose a random number over 500 and then begin to count backwards in 7’s. Each time you choose a new number to start with, so you don’t get too used to what those minus 7’s will be. If you get bored with 7s, change to another number over 5.

I know that’s work, but the point is to do something similar to counting those sheep – as in, routine, not requiring major effort, and that’s certainly not exciting.

Or use words instead (to put your sleep problem to bed)

If you’d rather use words, choose a random complex word – like stupendous, or disproportionate, (that last one took some thought to type, so it’s a good choice), and then mentally spell it backwards! Keep going, until your mind would rather switch off the thinking part and allow itself to settle into sleep, than spell any more words. Splendiferous! That’s exactly what you wanted, isn’t it?!

Great, hopefully that’s your sleep problem solved. There’s also a free download available on this site that shares the most common sleep myths. Keep checking back for more coping tips and techniques.

Additional resources

So hopefully you are going to solve your sleep problem, using the boredom method I’ve explained (and it works, I know it well!).

And now it’s getting up time, and since we’re on lockdown it’s tempting to shut off the sounds of the dogs wanting to go out, the kids watching TV and eating chocolate eggs for breakfast, and especially the barrage of mails and messages waiting for you… Just leave me here for another 5 (actually 60) minutes…

So how do you get your backside out of bed? And when it’s out, how do you get yourself motivated?

Check out this super useful 5 piece blog series on Motivational States. I especially like the one on “Getting Through The (Dreaded) Dip.” And don’t say you haven’t got time to read it; not like you’re sitting in traffic for hours at the moment. Yay to that one!