Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What to do about that Bad Sleep

In this video I discuss Judgement and the bad sleep we think we just had.
In a nutshell, what we think about the night before will change what happened the night before...

There is a transcript below - there are a few deletions and additions and yet the main points are there.

Transcript of Video

The research I refer 'loosely' to in the video can be found at Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning.

This video is about judgment. Really quickly when we wake up in the morning and we judge what we think and how we feel about what happened the night before, i.e. during the night, that influences how our body responds for the rest of the day. I won't get into the research into this, but there is some very recent research which backs this up. Actually, they did it at a university in the states. 

There were two teams of 15 - 20 people each. Both teams doing the same exercise. One team were told constantly that the exercise they were doing just wasn't doing them any good and they were actually getting worse health wise while the other team was being told the opposite. Now they were both doing the same exercises. They were living the same. They were about the same age group, blah, blah, blah. They were being told all this stuff about how bad they were doing, they started to actually respond that way physiologically. Similarly, the people on the other side who were being told how well they were doing started to respond positively with reference to what they were told. The research kind of went on and on and what they realized was - and this has been brought out in many other research studies - is that when we think something about something that's happened, that perception influences how our physiology literally remembers what has happened and then does what it does next because of that. 

So if I remembered last night and I woke up four or five times for example and had a little bit of trouble getting to sleep each time, if I wake up and I look back and go "oh man I woke up four times and my daughter cried", blah, blah, blah and that means I'm going to have a really crap day or I'm going to be tired or whatever, then that is going to play out. Our perceptions and our thoughts influence our feeling. Our feelings strongly affect our physiological movement forward, the amount of energy we have and so on and so forth. They've done research on this in psychosomatics, where we are told something or we think something is going to work and that is called the placebo affect. The opposite of that we now call the nocebo affect. So the placebo is "if I get this pill, it's got something really good in it and it's going to help me get over this thing that I'm experiencing and the upshot of it is that is often, but not always, often the case. There's some research around some people are more susceptible to placebo. If we use the opposite, then if I believe this is going to harm me, this thing that I'm taking, then the nocebo affect takes place and this has been proven to be quite true as well. Not across the board. Some people are more influenced than others.

Fundamentally the generalisation is that what we think about what we're doing or what we've done actually influences our physiology and what happens next. It's kind of like you wake up the morning after having had a great time out. So we go out and we party and we go to an amazing gig and we see people we haven't seen in ages and we laugh and we dance, blah, blah, blah. We get home about 3 o'clock in the morning, but we have to wake up at 6:30 or 7 o'clock and we've got to go and do like a normal day's work. Now many of us would look back on that and go "well that was such a good time and I feel so energised. It was so good to meet people and blah, blah, blah and I have 2-4 hours sleep and in my head I'm just so fizzing because I've had such a good time". Then you've got other people that go "oh man, I got home so late. What am I going to do? I've got to get through the whole day" and so subsequently the two different people who had the same experience with different perceptions of that experience, their physiology will respond in accordance. 

So what am I getting at? Why is this important with sleep? Well it's obvious. What I think about the sleep that I think I just had is going to strongly influence the feelings that I have about the sleep I think I've just had. If I have a bunch of beliefs, which we can get into a lot more depth later, if I have beliefs about what that means, then I will make it mean that and then when I get on with my day, whatever I believe about what last night meant, that will start to physiologically respond in my body. So, what do we do? Well here's the thing. When we're waking up in the morning regardless of what happened, it's gone. Regardless of what happened during the night or last night, I woke up 3 or 4 times or two times, regardless of what happened, it's gone and the reality is I can still choose how I wish to think about it. I can look back and go "well that's how it was. How do I want to have my day? How much energy do I want to have? What are the things that are really necessary for me to achieve today?" and then I can picture myself having achieved them, which would help me to release any possible anxiety about it.

The essence of this is that the judgments we have about what has happened really influence how we go forward and the kind of energy we generate, the beliefs we have about going forward because of what's behind us. It's probably the same about many things in life. A discussion we had with someone can really influence how we then spend our time with that person. However, we can have 100 different ways of generalising that discussion. Like it's been ten minutes on Facebook and read a whole bunch of stuff and it's all kind of like inane and pointless and I could say "well like is inane and pointless", but I could get on next time and I get all these blog posts and things about you know really interesting political stuff or environmental stuff and I go "wow, I didn't know that and this means this and this". So once again, it will either energise me or de-energise me and that's where we've got to be quite careful about what we read and what we think about, the things that we hear or read or think. So it's not so much that we don't judge. It's maybe that we acknowledge and then ask ourselves "how does this work for me and if it does work for me, how can I go forward happily, sleep well, enjoy my life with that information" or "this doesn't work for me so I'm just going to leave it and do something else".

So in summary, what we think and feel about the thing that's just happened and in this case about the sleep we think we just had, actually influences our energy and our physiology going forward. The way around that is to just acknowledge it. There it is. It is what it was and I don't really understand. Here's the other thing and this is what is often quite interesting. We wake up in the middle of the night, we are often, not always, but often we're not fully awake. We're not fully cognisant. We're a little bit dozy. You know, we might even be in a semi-hypnotic state or as they call it, semi-trance state. So our perceptions of what's going on unless it's a real emergency, are often a little bit a-skewed. When we get back into bed, because we're lying down and we're resting, our perception unless we're constantly looking at the clock, our perception of time and our perception of what's really going on are also a bit a-skewed. When we wake up in the morning and we look back with a fully conscious state, we're actually looking back at a not fully conscious state from a conscious state. That means we're not even really sure if what we remember is true. 

So it's really important to just maybe consider, there's not a rule as such, but to consider other judgments I'm having about the night before. Are they benefiting me? Are they fuelling me positively to move forward? Are they giving me energy? Do they make any sense? Am I hallucinating them? Then decide "well what do I want to do today? What kind of state of mind is useful to me" How much energy do I have or do I feel like I have in order to do those things?" 

Try it out. It's good fun and it can really change. Once you've done that for a little while, it then changes your perceived judgments or thoughts about going to bed. So it changes how we may perceive the night that was or start to influence how we perceive the nights coming up and the days ahead.  


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