Do you or someone you know suffer from a lack of sleep?
Did you know that at least one out of every three adults in America actually suffer from a lack of sleep? Now, before we can talk about why this is happening we need to talk about the big elephant in the room…STRESS!!
The #1 Killer In Our Modern World
Over 70% of people say that they are living under stress and over 85% of doctor’s visits are related to stress. I’ve read a lot on this topic and now believe that stress is the number one killer in America and in the civilized World for that matter. But what is stress?
At a glance, stress is nothing more than an emotional or a mental strain that you feel to a threat. Now, it’s important to mention that the threat can be a real threat, for example, if you are out in a jungle and you all of a sudden you see a tiger come after you, your fight or flight system will enter survival mode. Or, let’s say you’re in a dangerous city and you see a bad person who’s going to rob you, so your system known as the sympathetic nervous system now activates and when the sympathetic nervous system gets activated it unfortunately deactivates the parasympathetic which is our immune system. There’s a good reason for this. Let’s say that you have a really bad cold at this very moment, you’re sneezing and then you see the physical threat. Under this conditions, it makes sense that the brain prioritizes the immediate threat and stops working on your cold ,right? The issue is for how long? Normally animals enter stress for short periods of time to increase their chances of survival, but when it comes to humans, our immune system function gets shut down or down regulated and the body never returns to homeostasis or balance.
Threats Are Real To Our Minds and The Response Is The Same
The reason for this is that most times we’re not turning on our stress response to survive, we’re doing it because perceived threats can also happen only in the mind…that’s right, we can produce the same chemicals and response when we encounter the neighbor, the spouse, co-workers, bills, kids, school, traffic, etc, those are all threats to your brain, and they are just as real as the tiger.
So, while you’re having this reaction to a perceived threat, which is only happening in your mind, your brain will start firing and wiring incoherently and you may not even be aware this is happening in the background. We have been equipped with something unique…our prefrontal cortex. It is the part of the brain that plans, the one that is reading music ahead of time when you’re playing an instrument and pretty much where we hold our conscious wishes and desires. You can think of it as the CEO. When you’re working with your conscious brain you’re operating out of your wishes and desires. Unfortunately, this part is not as powerful as our survival mechanism or subconscious mind. This is why, under survival mode, the subconscious mind tends to block information going to the conscious. There’s no time to act remember? The enemy is after you and any split second can make the difference. This is where survival instinct kicks in.
Living In Stress Will Criple You Like Nothing Else
It turns out that we operate 95% of our time from our subconscious mind. There’s people that operate from their subconscious 99% of the time. The problem with this is, if you choose to live under stress, you’ve now chosen to live out of programs that you have no control of, and because your immune system is down, you’ll be a lot more prone to disease. Not only are you more likely to develop auto immune disease, but most people go by their lives without living out their conscious dreams and desires because of this state. When you’re in survival for such a long time, it’s not a time to create, or a time to realize love, or have expectations about beautiful things happening in your life. It’s not a time
to do that. It’s a time to survive. It’s a time to fight, run, hide or freeze. That’s why they call it the fight-or-flight reaction.
Becoming Addicted To A Life You Don’t Want
When people have a prolonged stress response they basically become addicted to the life that they don’t want which is funny because you know that you don’t want to live that way. You know you don’t want live in fear, anger or frustration, but you have become addicted to this lifestyle.
Part of it is related to adrenaline being released in your system and the adrenaline actually can be addictive so when people have experienced stress for a prolonged period of time they will become addicted to that feeling, to that situation, to that energy. To make things worse, they will also feel like they are victims to their environment, to their
spouse, to their co-workers, their jobs and in general to all circumstances that surround them. Of course, they won’t be able to come out of that easily because they will rather cling to that fear, that hatred, that guilt, that shame, etc., than actually take a chance on love, take a chance on a new life, take a chance on happiness.
Remember that if you are in survival mode there’s no time for happiness, joy, and no time to create a better life.
What Does Stress Have To Do With Sleep?
As a direct result and coming back to sleep, this is how sleep and stress are so strongly correlated. When people choose to live under stress, they’ll have a much harder time sleeping. Remember, you are in survival mode so you shouldn’t sleep too much because the predator is out there. You actually want to stay awake as much as possible because if you fall asleep the predator is gonna catch you so this is why your brain will reduce the production of melatonin which is a key hormone that you need for sleep. Under stress, you’ll be on high cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) and you’re on low melatonin which is the state of stress you created. This is why you won’t last through the night asleep. Remember the predator is any perceived threat in your head, your spouse, your bills, your neighbor…
Something else to notice is that because you are re-living a situation that you have created by yourself with your mind you will have over 90 percent of your thoughts repeating day after day. So your thoughts will be the same as yesterday. That’s right, we typically tend to repeat our thoughts every day unless we change the pattern and that means your same behaviors, same patterns, same thoughts are going to rule over your life and this is going to happen subconsciously. Remember your conscious mind is going to get shut down when you are in survival mode. This is why it becomes so hard for most people to start new projects in their lives.
Also, when you’re in stress mode another thing that’s gonna happen when you sleep is you may experience heightened senses. So you might develop better hearing, better smell, etc. The reason for that is because if you’re being chased by a predator you could use all the help you can get. So, even the slightest noise 2 blocks away will wake you up. The vague smell of something far away will bother you, and so on…your senses are now really attuned to the outside world.
Materialism Kicks In
Speaking of the outside World, you’ll notice something else that happens. You will tend to live more in a very materialistic world when under stress. you’ll tend to seek pleasure in things like a new car, a new phone, a new TV, etc., because you are trying to find in those things the happiness that you are craving for. So, you’re actually craving for a
better life but your subconscious will not let you unless you can get out of that stress pattern. And if you don’t do anything it will become a very hardwired situation in
your life, especially if you are older than 35. By the time we’re 35 our brains have been hardwired and while it’s not impossible to change (and neuroplasticity now shows us virtually anything is possible) it becomes harder and harder the more your neurons fire.
You’ll Live In The Past…Or In A Very Predictable Future
During this times you’ll also experiment your mind living in the familiar past. This presents yet an additional problem because it is estimated that about 50% of our thoughts from the past are actually fake! That’s right, we tend to embellish them so we are going to try to tune in to the bad feelings, bad thoughts that we had in the past a lot more than the positive, and we might even twist the positive memories into negative ones. You’ll not only be living in the past, but this will actually make your future very predictable. This can make you running your day to day with a program almost like a robot. Remember this is a program you don’t like and you may not even be aware it’s in place in your everyday life. Unless you are able to break the cycle, this sleep deprived rollercoaster can affect you indefinitely.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Sleep?
So, now that you know what could be affecting your sleep what can you do to improve your sleep quality? What can you do to actually break the cycle and live a happier and better life?
These are some tips and, just a fair warning, these are going to be hard to implement in the beginning because remember when you are in stress you would rather hold on to the negative behaviors, attitudes, etc. So you will say to yourself “I can’t do this”, “I’m too…”, “this is not for me”, etc. And any new information that comes your way as way of books, summaries, documentaries, you will make all efforts to push it away. Any people who come with this information you will also try to push them away too because they are not
supporting your present limiting beliefs. So, when you when you approach this try
to approach this with an open heart.
The Time Machine Is Broken…Live In The Present
The very first thing that I tried doing was I focused on being in the present moment. This is the whole trick to meditating but I try not to call this process meditation because when you talk about meditation people tend to think about monks in Tibet or something along those lines. But the truth is meditation, in its most basic for is nothing more than living and observing the present moment and we can all achieve living in the present moment. When you try this initially, your subconscious will still try to sabotage you because you’ll be off schedule from the bad habits and repeating patterns of bad behaviors. So it will miss the out of balance experience you typically have, and it will try to force you back into that place. But the more you do it, over time, you’ll experience living in the present more and more and when you do that your brain chemistry will change and shift more every day towards positive thoughts.
As you are enjoying the present moment more what you want to aim is for a sense of gratitude. You want to visualize being thankful for good things that are happening in your life. Even if they’re not happening in your life you want to imagine that everything you need is already there. So, the financial security that you’re seeking is already there, the love of your life is already there, you have everything you need every day. If you want to supercharge this, try it in the morning. The reason why is your brain is not fully awake in the morning, so if you force your brain to go down the path of change first thing in the morning you are likely to encounter less resistance. Being in the present moment and grateful is likely to come easier.
Maintain In The Happiness Lane Everyday No Matter What
The more you do this and it becomes a habit, the more victories you’re going to experience in your life. Over 70% of our thoughts in our day to day tend to be negative and as you may have experienced it requires so much more than will power to change this. Will power is rooted in your conscious mind, and because the subconscious mind is one million times more powerful than your conscious, it will win every time. This is why you have to reprogram it to live out of your conscious wishes and desires and that’s where meditation and being in the present moment comes into place and being grateful everyday supercharges that mindset.
Stop The Mindless Screen Time
I also recommend one very powerful strategy which you need to start doing right now. It is turn off your cell phone at some point in the afternoon and don’t turn it back on until the next day way after you have started your morning and are fully awakened. Don’t do what everybody does, which is look for your cellphone and loose mindless time doing whatsapp, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. That habit will leave you stuck in your familiar past.
You want to first tackle yourself being in the present moment, being grateful and then at some point in the day you go and get distracted with that stuff. Our addiction to these devices is so strong when I was beginning to break this bad habit I actually had to leave my cell phone physically outside because I knew that if it was near I would reach for it and waste precious time on other people’s agendas. Now that I broke that pattern, the cellphone can be anywhere, I’m not tempted to reach for it anymore. So I did this and so can you.
You Are The Average Of The People You Hang Out With…So Choose Your Friends Wisely
The last thing I wanted to suggest is to look for a support group. People that are on the same page as you. Avoid the people who will bring you down on this journey and look for the ones that will help you to be happier and live a better life. Most people that are
under stress hang out with other people that are under stress so you’ll see a group of sad people, sleep deprived people, etc, but what you want to look for is the opposite. People who you can learn from. So becoming a support group with each other will be a powerful thing on this journey. If you have a very close friend, partner or spouse that you can rely on and you can walk on this journey together to better sleep, better stress management, etc, that’s even better!
Living Wth Other Close Friends And Family Under Stress?
Now, what happens if, through circumstances, you are the one that has been living your life consciously and fully and you are experiencing either living or being very close to other people that suffering from high levels of stress? My suggestion to you is that you continue on your journey because you can only serve yourself first and like dieting, nobody likes being pushed into something they don’t even believe in. So you don’t want to pressure other people because remember they are unconsciously behaving the way they do. What you do want do do is to try to have acts of love. And it can be very simple things like closing the door for someone, cleaning up after them, etc. You definitively want to do this without any hidden agenda or expecting something in return. Sometimes it is necessary to do these acts of love without them even noticing because when they become aware of it they might lash out on you for doing it. “I’ll do my own laundry”, “I can take care of myself”, “I don’t need your help”, are common things you might get from people living under stress. You still want to do what you can for that person because that person really needs you…
I hope that this has been helpful. Please share it with someone you love if you feel that it would be helpful for them and remember to subscribe so you can catch more of this helpful information. How is your sleep? Please comment below…
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