The Resilient Lawyer – When the ZZZ’s Don’t Come With Ease

The other night I woke up in the middle of the night with a song repeating in my head on a seemingly endless loop.   As I lay there, trying to will the song out my head, thoughts of what I had to do the next day at work began to set in.  My frustration mounted, and I began to think that I would not fall asleep again.  Since it was only 3 am, I knew I was going to be tired the next day, and me tired is not a good thing.

Thankfully, a moment of mindfulness crept its way in.  Mindfulness (which I’ve talked about in previous articles) is the act of being aware, in the moment, of one’s thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and accepting them without judgment.  In that mindful moment, I decided to acknowledge my frustration and to just let it be there.  

Acknowledging and accepting my frustration without judgment, allowed me to stop wasting energy trying to will the song and the worries out of my head.  Once that fight ended, I noticed that my body started to relax.  Then I took it one step further – I turned on an app that I have on my phone and began listening to a guided sleep meditation.  Armed with acceptance, relaxation and the guided meditation, the noises in my head eventually evaporated back to where they came from, and I was able to go back to sleep.  Even though I was still a little tired when I woke up “officially” that morning, I was not a complete disaster and I was able to function pretty well for the rest of the day.  The next time you wake up in the middle of the night, I encourage you to try what I tried and see if it also works for you.

Getting a good night’s sleep is such a critical tool for us to have in our resilience toolbox.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences (USDHHS) lists the following benefits of getting a good night’s sleep:  it reduces how often you get sick; it helps you maintain a healthy weight; it lowers your risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease; it reduces your stress and improves your mood; it helps you think more clearly and function better at work; it allows you to get along better with people; and, it helps you make good decisions and avoid injuries.  How much sleep is enough?  The USDHHS recommends that most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night.

Even though I had heard the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep on many occasions, I have always been that guy who says that he can go on very little sleep, and for years I have carried that moniker like a badge of honour.  All that changed, however, when I started my Resilience Coach training.  Based on what I was learning, I decided to start a bedtime routine.  As part of my routine, I now go to bed at the same time every night (except sometimes on weekends), put away all devices and distractions, and put on a sleep meditation.  The routine also involves getting up at the same time every morning and committing to a target of at least 7 hours of sleep.  So far, the results have been profound!  With the intention of getting a good night’s sleep on my mind and meditation tools to keep me on task, I have been able, for the most part, to fall asleep without any of those debilitating worries that would normally run through my head.  I also wake up feeling more rested and more like myself – ready for the challenges of the day.   So, if you were like me, let go of that badge of honour and you will find that getting a good night’s sleep makes you more resilient.