In my last article I listed some compelling reasons why business owners, independent professionals and executives need to make getting enough sleep a priority, at least if they need to think, have insights, be creative, or stay healthy to be successful. But how do you know how much sleep you actually need?
You need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
The first thing to know is that almost all adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Yes, there are a few outliers—a tiny number of people who consistently sleep less than seven hours then wake refreshed, and who never seem to have their health compromised by it. If you have that particular genetic anomaly, congratulations. I am definitely jealous of you.
For the rest of us, that kind of sleep schedule would be physically, emotionally, and cognitively punishing. If we want to have the many benefits of good sleep, we need to start by scheduling enough pillow time.
Now, everyone’s sleep need is individual. So how do you know where you fall on that 7-9 hour spectrum?
It’s a truism that, as stress goes up, sleep goes down. I was talking with a client this week who has been having trouble sleeping. She has been using the technique of tapping on acupressure points I teach to work on some other stressors in her life but had not used the tapping on her sleep problems. I suggested these three different tapping options to try. (I’m assuming you already know how to do the mechanics of tapping here. If you haven’t learned them yet, check out my Quick Start Guide to Tapping.)
(1) If you toss and turn instead of falling asleep, tap before going to bed, saying “Even though I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, I deeply and completely accept myself, and I choose to relax completely and let my mind wander freely.” Say something like that 3 times while tapping on the karate chop point. Then do one round of tapping on each of the tapping points saying something like “I can’t fall asleep . . . I always wake up . . . the sleep apnea makes it impossible to sleep well . . . I can’t get back to sleep when I wake up . . . ” Use whatever bugs you most about your sleep issues. Then do a second round saying “I choose to relax completely and let my mind wander freely” on each point. Finally do one round where you switch back and forth — first the negative “I can’t sleep” statement on eyebrow point followed by positive “I choose to relax completely . . . ” on the side of the eye, and so on. As always, change my wording to fit what is going on for you.
(2) If you find yourself waking up then not being able to get back to sleep because your mind is getting stuck on something (food, work stress, not getting back to sleep), tap directly on that. Try: “Even though I can’t stop thinking about that report that’s due next week . . .” or “Even though I’m wide awake and I’m sure I’m going to stay that way until dawn and I’m pissed about it, I deeply and completely accept myself, and I choose to relax and let my mind wander.” Then do the 3 rounds like above — one all negative, one with just the choice statement, and one alternating between the two.
(3) Tap directly on whatever physical experience gets in the way of sleeping. Something like “Even though there is no way I will ever be able to sleep with this %*$# music from the neighbors making the walls shake, I deeply and completely accept myself and choose to be surprised at how quickly I stop even noticing it’s there.” Then try the 3 rounds as above. And, yes, if you feel like swearing about the problem, it helps to incorporate the swearing into the tapping. Swear with gusto for maximum effect.
I find when I can’t sleep, I really have to tap on being angry about not sleeping. It doesn’t matter whether I’m angry at myself, at my husband who is sleeping soundly while I’m wide wake, or at the universe for not making things go my way. If you find yourself getting angry at not sleeping, just tap on that anger even if it isn’t rational. (I know that the universe is not arranged for my comfort and enjoyment all the time). It’s much easier to let go of it if you tap on your anger than if you just grit your teeth and tell yourself to forget about it.
You may need to do whatever tapping you try more than once. But, really, if you’re not sleeping, what better do you have to do?
If you would like some additional help figuring out how to use this tapping to get to sleep, please e-mail me at email@example.com to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to discuss your blocks.
“Jack” (whose name I’ve changed for confidentiality reasons), a solo attorney, has been working on a big case for over a year. He’s up against one of the big law firms in his city, and the stress from feeling ganged up on has been building as the trial got closer.
Last week Jack told me that he hadn’t slept well for the two nights before the pretrial conference with the judge on Friday. In fact, the night before he hadn’t slept at all. Now he had a long weekend to prepare for the trial and was worried that he might be a sleepless wreck by opening arguments on Tuesday. I went over with him the stress-relief tapping technique I use and told him to try it if he had any more trouble sleeping.
We spoke Tuesday after the first day of trial. Jack reported that he had slept very poorly all weekend long, but that “for some reason” he had slept well the night before and been quite relaxed throughout the day’s proceedings. I asked if he had tapped, and he said he had forgotten to over the weekend, but then added “Oh, I tapped last night. Maybe that was why I slept better.”
While we can’t be sure that tapping made the difference here for Jack, it is common for people to forget they tapped once their problem goes away. And I know other clients who have had relief from their insomnia when they tapped. It certainly can’t hurt to try.
If stress is keeping you awake, try my Quick Start Guide to tapping. It might help you, too. If you would like more individual attention, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a get-acquainted call by phone or Skype to talk about how we might work together.