When Sleep Becomes Strain: Resistance With a Basic Need
Everyone reading this at some point has struggled with falling asleep, having obligations pull them away from sleep, and have had to work through fatigue from lack of sleep. Before indoor lighting and screens, good sleep was aligned with natural rhythms. Under the present circumstances some type of sleep disruption misalignment is the new norm. Chronically poor sleep quality brings about a plethora of health issues. Below are two informative videos on the importance of sleep along with some tips on getting quality sleep.
REM sleep is king with Stan Efferding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ7L5itxLhY
Tips on falling asleep with Matthew Walker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-iQHE5tdUI
Now you are probably feeling the spotlight and thinking something like “Great! Another issue I need to solve!” Or, “If only I didn’t have to take care of ______ then I could get some sleep!” This is an understandable and normal frustration that I hear from patients being pulled away from a foundational need like consistent quality sleep. The issue here is not what to do about it, that is simple. Poor sleep quality and quantity cause discomfort in your day along with poor health outcomes driving motivation to change. The two videos above are a simple place to start. However simple is not easy. It's common for a simple issue like problematic sleeping patterns to smoke out a deeper issue. What arises are questions like “Why are my needs of something basic like sleep always last in my routine?” Or “Why can’t I change and be consistent with something that I know is foundational for my health?”
Feelings of frustration are common with the gap between things we know we should do like eat better, sleep better, exercise more etc.. and why we are not able to do them to our standards. We feel shame in our perceived inability to execute healthy behaviors and think that it must be our fault alone. You are not alone in the double bind of being pulled away from your needs and the frustration when we can’t push back towards them. The important questions here are “Why are my needs not important enough to myself or in my environment to be fulfilled?” and “How long has this been this way?”
A simple change like sleep exposing larger issues within our environment can lead to us feeling hopeless and exasperated. The circumstances are imposed on you and it is unfair for you to initiate change. Trying for a shift in sleep forces us to recognize ourselves as the priority. An alienating feeling to ourselves that can be met with pushback from those close to us. You have likely tried to make simple changes to your sleeping patterns or expressed the importance of getting more sleep only to slip back into a dysfunctional pattern. Again. Simple is not easy. There are many factors that go into small changes. Small changes expose larger problems.
The value of this process is developing awareness of a deeper issue blocking a fundamental need like sleep or a confirmation of something you knew already. Orienting to a deeper issue in our lives is never fair or fun. Sweeping it under the rug or band aid solutions are not sustainable for good health. If you find yourself identifying strongly with the themes of this article I encourage you to reach out for consultation.