We all know the importance of sleep, so it’s natural to be concerned when you’re not sleeping well. Unfortunately, worrying about how much sleep you got, or how much you will get, only fuels anxiety. The more anxious you feel, the less likely you are to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that can leave you feeling ‘tired but wired’.

The desire to sleep has nothing to do with our actual ability to sleep. All we can do is set the stage for a good night’s sleep and then accept what our bodies’ are going to do. So, let go of the struggle to sleep. Remind yourself that with the right strategies, you will have more good nights and fewer bad nights.

Aim for quality over quantity. It’s better to get a few good hours of sleep than stress about getting a certain number of hours.

Try not to catastrophize when you don’t have a good sleep – you may not feel 100% the next day, but it’s still manageable. You’ve done it before. So, when you catch yourself worrying about sleep, try telling yourself more truthful and helpful things.

Check out these helpful thoughts when you’re having trouble sleeping.

During the Day/Right Before bed:

  • Focusing on how badly I slept last night only fuels anxiety and makes it less likely that I’ll fall asleep tonight.
  • Worrying about not sleeping only increases my anxiety, which makes it less likely I will sleep.
  • I’ll do what I can to get my body ready for sleep (see Active Steps) and then I have to accept that the rest is up to my body.
  • I accept that I may not have a good night’s sleep tonight.
  • A bad night’s sleep is often rewarded with a good night’s sleep the next night or the night after that. My body will naturally re-adjust itself, if I let it.
  • Instead of worrying about sleeping, I’m going to plan something fun or relaxing to do this evening.

When You Can’t Sleep:

  • It’s normal once in a while to have a bad night’s sleep.
  • Trying hard to sleep interferes with my ability to fall sleep. I need to accept that I may not be able to sleep tonight.
  • Worrying about not sleeping, only increases the likelihood that I won’t sleep.
  • I may not feel great in the morning if I don’t get a good sleep, but I can still get through the day.
  • Quality of sleep is more important than quantity, so I need to stop focusing on how many hours of sleep I’m going to get.
  • If I can’t sleep, I’ll use this time to do something relaxing, which is still good for my mind and body.
  • I don’t need to catch up on sleep by sleeping in or napping. Even if I’m tired, it’s better to get up at my set time and let my body reset tomorrow night.