The Habit Society

⚡️ The Sleep Paradox

To: Society Members

Good Morning!

As we all know, the hardest part about building a new habit is sticking to it during the first couple of weeks. Our friend and THS member Zach just told us about a neat new app he’s working on that’ll help you build habits that stick (literally). It’s called Stick it, and it’s an app that you can pair with their habit stickers, which you can stick anywhere. Whenever you complete a habit, simply tap your phone to the sticker and start building streaks and tracking progress. They just launched the waitlist, and you can sign up here for early access today!

One more thing. We’re at two and a half minutes of planking and the abs are forming nicely. Here’s the Zoom link to plank with us at 8:30am & 6:30pm daily.

-⚡️ Nikki

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The Sleep Paradox

This isn’t the first time we’re discussing sleep here: its importance, its hygiene, sleep as the foundation to all else…yada, yada, yada. That being said, don’t stress about it. Nikki, what? Aren’t you contradicting yourself? It sounds like it, but if being inundated with tips on sleep hygiene causes you stress, it’s just counterproductive.

Dr. Chris Winter, neurologist, sleep specialist, and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It (is that enough accolades?), will help us understand why.

Cues

Performance Anxiety

Sleep is a skill, and just like any other skill, performance anxiety can creep up. It’s not a coincidence that we can never sleep the ONE night we need it the most. It’s performance anxiety. Dr. Winter explains that the people who struggle with sleep are often the ones who put a lot of weight on its importance, which fuels the anxiety. For some reason, our brains think that bedtime is the perfect opportunity to panic over the stats on dementia, weight gain, and chronic diseases related to a lack of sleep. Convenient!

Brag, Much?

Dr. Winter confidently states that he will never have insomnia. This isn’t because he’ll never have difficulty falling asleep, but because he doesn’t mind being awake in bed. Insomnia is the negative reaction to being in bed, wanting to sleep, and not being able to. If you don’t mind lying in bed as you try to fall asleep, then it isn’t insomnia. He explains that one of two things will happen when you get into bed: you fall asleep or you stay awake. To avoid any issues, you need to be equally happy with both outcomes. If you’re not, that’s what you need to work on, not just your sleep hygiene. If you fear going to bed and not falling asleep, that will cause insomnia.

How Can I Work On It?

Redefine what lying in bed is. Dr. Winters’ patients describe lying down, unable to sleep as hell on Earth… but aren’t there at least 100 worse things than lying awake in a comfortable bed? If you’re having trouble thinking of any, what about nails on a chalkboard? Or, blisters in new shoes? The fearful, negative thinking of sleep stress just perpetuates the problem. Be okay with being in bed awake. Dr. Winter uses his awake time in bed to relax, think about what to make for dinner the next night. He embraces every moment of it.

I wish I could sleep

We All ‘Zzz

Most people don’t need to worry about the dangers of not sleeping unless you’re someone who regularly sleeps 2-3 hours a night.

But, even the worst sleepers will sleep. Dr. Winter has become pretty sick of hearing “I didn’t sleep last night”. He tells his patients to check their Fitbit or Apple Watch. While these aren’t always extremely accurate, they’re much more reliable than people’s own perceptions. We may not feel like we slept, but our bodies require sleep to survive, so it’s impossible to go without it.

There is a difference between fatigue and sleepiness, which we often confuse. Sleepiness is the drive to sleep. If you’re awake for an hour before falling asleep, you were most likely not that sleepy. Fatigue is the feeling after running a marathon. You’re exhausted but you don’t have the urge to sleep. Excessive sleepiness is seen in people who fall asleep at red lights or anywhere they sit down.

Here’s the caveat: everyone needs different amounts of sleep. So for some, lying awake is just self-induced insomnia. If you’re someone who needs 7 hours of sleep, but you give yourself the opportunity for 9, you’ll inevitably be lying in bed awake for a while.

The Takeaway: If it takes you 2-3 hours to fall asleep, you’re not sleep-deprived. If you were, your body would fall asleep much quicker.

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Sleep Bible
Sleep Bible

Dr. Winter does however acknowledge that people’s sleep quality may be low, so here are some of his sleep hygiene tips:

1. Don’t use the “15 minutes in bed awake” rule. Telling yourself you need to fall asleep in X amount of time is another way to perpetuate insomnia.

2. Always have the same wake-up time, even if you hit the pillow a few hours later than usual. Otherwise, you’ll push back your bedtime the next night, perpetuating the cycle. Sleeping less one night is a temporary hiccup but if you let yourself sleep in then it can become a long-term problem.

3. Naps are okay for people who sleep well but still feel tired during the day. If you’re one of these people, nap earlier in the day and for shorter periods. But, if you’re napping to make up for lost sleep during the night, it’s not a good idea. You gave your body the chance to sleep and it didn’t take it. Naps will again perpetuate that problem.

To conclude: If you educate yourself on sleep, you can fix most of your sleep problems. But, when you don’t understand what’s going on and you fear the consequences, it perpetuates insomnia.

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Like we said above, this is a discussion so reply here with your thoughts, feelings, advice, or just to say hi.

Share & Earn: Don’t forget to share your unique referral link to earn rewards like a personalized habit plan and a THS sweater.

Connect: Here’s another chance to join our plank accountability group. For quick access, here’s the Zoom link.

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