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Sleep Guilt, Sleep Perfection And Sleep Anxiety

I listen to podcasts when I wash up and cook breakfast for my perennially late rising partner Coach V. I've tried getting her up earlier and it's not worth it!

Last week I was listening to the Propane Podcast where Jonny was discussing sleep overhauls and people feeling guilty when they don't hit a perfect 8 hours sleep or when people beat themselves up for 1 or 2 nights of poor sleep.

And it really hit a nerve with me.

I've done lots of content about sleep. I've done talks and researched a great deal about sleep.

So the amount of pressure I put on myself to get 8 hours of sleep has recently been ridiculous.

If I was woken up during the night my entire night of sleep was over as I put pressure on myself to get as much sleep as possible OTHERWISE I'LL GET ALZHEIMER'S AND DIE AGE 32.

The podcast discussed not putting as much pressure on yourself for perfection as that is often the worst attitude possible for success.

In the past I have done the that with nutrition with explosive results and most coaches and mentors know when you demand perfection it's a recipe for an explosive diet of disaster and if repeated over the long term eating disorder like behaviour can follow.

By the way I felt over the last month i.e sleeping less and less as worries and sleep anxiety about getting enough sleep and setting a good "sleep example" I could tell that something was off in my approach so must be off in how I am communicating my message to my clients and friends.

The podcast with Jonny showed me where I was going wrong. It is often a voice from elsewhere that hammers home the "I need to change" message.

I was demanding perfection and putting myself on track for a big problem with sleep and that makes me think some of my clients must be in the same boat.

And as someone who knows just how important sleep is the last thing I want is to promote dangerous feelings of guilt and anxiety around sleep because that isn't going to help anyone with any kind of goal beyond massive sleep deprivation.

So instead of going for 8 hours every night, all the time demand perfection all the time NO MATTER WHAT!!!! I'm now trying to get between 6.5 and 8 hours while looking to gradually increase the average amount of sleep I am getting over the months and years rather than looking at it over a 24 hour period.

Yes, the routine of getting up and going to bed at the same time helps immensely as well as all the sleep environment stuff but it would appear that when you strive for perfection in a situation where it's impossible to achieve it causes a level of anxiety, stress and guilt that can have the opposite to the desired outcome relating to sleep.

So go for a good amount of sleep on average. Get as close as you can, have a good sleep routine and stop beating yourself up about getting 6 minutes less sleep than you need according to science.

By Chris K

Give yourself sensible sleep goals. Build on your good sleep habits gradually and give yourself a break when you don't achieve perfection and learn from my mistakes!

By Chris Kershaw

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