It wasn’t until I learned to apply Dale Carnegie’s 5th principle to ‘Break the Worry Habit before It Breaks You,’ which is, ‘Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more,’ that I learned to sleep on it instead of staying awake with it.
Here are two common myths about sleeplessness to help you maximize your Vitamin Zzzzzzzz.
‘Wind-down’ activities help you fall asleep faster. This one is tricky because the key is that a ‘wind-down’ activity should be somewhat mindless. For example, I read a business book every night before bed because they are easy for me to put down so I can curl up and crash. A book that you find engaging on the other hand—one you can’t put down, actually causes tension because your brain struggles between wanting to continue to be mentally stimulated and also wanting to get some sleep.
Doing a mindless activity on an electronic device is also deceiving as nearly half of Americans use smartphones before bed.1 You may think you’re relaxing by playing a game or surfing social media on your smart before bed, however the opposite is true because:
Gadgets suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that controls circadian rhythm, due to the blue light they emit.
Brains stay busy because technology tricks your mind into believing it needs to remain awake.
Seeing something on social media may cause anxiety when you’re on the brink of falling asleep.
Choose an activity that is truly relaxing such as reading a decent book or doing a few yoga poses.
Solving stressful situations before bed will help you sleep better. Big problems, both at work and home, are often the cause of insomnia. This type of stress causes one third of all adults to lose sleep.2 I used to think that if I could figure out how to overcome a challenge before bed, I wouldn’t lose as much sleep. The problem is that every problem carries infinite possible resolution aspects and options which can keep our minds racing all night long!
In Dale Carnegie’s timeless, best-selling book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, he outlines four questions to pose when encountering a problem:
What is the problem?
What is the CAUSE of the problem?
What are all possible solutions to the problem?
What solutions do you suggest?
Instead of trying to solve the entire problem before bed, remember it’s wise to break it down into these four steps—and only focus on defining the problem and its cause. For example, if a sales manager is concerned that her team won’t meet its monthly quota, contemplating all of the causes is ample work for the brain before bed. Could the quota have been set too high? Is there a lack of sales training? Could the industrial and/or economic environment be impacting actual revenue? Odds are during your waking hours when your brain functions at its best, you’ll be enlightened with the best solution.