70 million Americans and 62% of adults[1] worldwide report struggling with their sleep.

The sleep aids market has caught onto this problem with opportunity, amassing a $30 billion industry[2].

But as a sleep & well-being coach[3], most of the people who come to me have been there, done that. They’re tired of spending time, energy, and money on the latest sleeping fad when previous ones haven’t solved their problem. They’re understandably frustrated, and sometimes angry.

Just like fad diets, sleeping fads are here, and they’re likely here to stay. These “solutions” bank on you, a person struggling with sleep, to hold certain beliefs. Things you think are or should be true about your sleep and energy.

Myth: A Great Sleeper Hits The Ground Running

One of these myths is that a person who gets refreshing sleep at night should be able to “hit the ground running.” If only you fell asleep faster, stayed asleep longer, you’d pop right up–exactly when you wanted to wake–and be 100% ready for the jam-packed day that awaits you!

The analogy I think of when I hear this is of a light switch: flip it on and light up your life. Conversely, one should be able to flick off that same light at night, falling asleep when one wants to.

Yet you likely already know that you don’t flip off like a light switch at night. We have language for this too: we say, “I need to unwind” or “I need to wind down.” Of course, this blindly accepts all the stimulation and “winding up” that happens to you during a day!

Related: For more unconventional sleep support, check out Kali’s World Sleep Day Activity: 3 Myths Preventing You from Sleeping Better.

Sleep Strugglers

Got Rhythm? Most Sleep Strugglers Don’t.

Private sleep coaching clients are often seeking natural ways to sleep better.

Guess what? Nature follows certain rhythms. And, nature can’t be forced, nor can it be rushed.

Your sleep and energy work similarly. In the morning, your energy gradually rises. In the evening, your energy gradually wanes. And, your energy also rises and wanes multiple times during your day.

You’ll notice this if you pause long enough to pay attention. Alas, many of us don’t. Worse yet, if we do feel a lull in the daytime, we believe something is wrong, and we find ways to power through them. There’s a whole other market here–one worth $57.4 billion[4]. But, I digress . . . .

What You Want Isn’t What You Need

If you’ve ever woken up in the morning with that “hitting the ground running” feeling, it’s likely you never unwound all the way at night. And, it’s likely that sooner or later, you’ll crash hard from this pattern. There’s a clinical name for this now: burnout[5].

While not directly sleep-related, extreme “doing” without adequate rest over-taxes your mind-body system and feeds the sleep-stress feedback cycle.
Even when burnout isn’t the end-game, it could be a host of other medical or health-related conditions[6] that eventually stop you in your tracks.

Sleep aid supplement and energy drink markets want you to view your mind-body system as a light switch: one that you can control with their products.

As a result, many people request wanting to fall asleep faster, and wake up leaping out of bed fresh first thing in the morning.

If this is you, and you’re struggling with sleep and energy, you’ll continue to struggle because you’ve bought into this idea.

And, you can shift your mindset from what they tell you (and you think) you want to what you NEED (and truly want)!

Struggling with sleep

Warm It Up, Cool It Down

If you want to make an analogy between your mind-body system and a piece of machinery, think of yourself more like a treasured car. (After all, you are “driving” this human, are you not? 🙂

In the morning, you may need some time to warm up. After a super busy day, you’re very likely to need to cool down.

Excessive busyness–which characterizes much of our professional and personal lives these days–is stimulating.

In many traditions, including Ayurveda[7], over-stimulation is characterized as excessive heat. This is why “burnout” is such an apt word–it’s literally an overheating of your car, which results in it breaking down.

You can select morning and bedtime practices that help move your energy gradually up or gradually down. This includes styles of exercise, patterns of breathing, types of food, and topics of conversation.

If you pay attention to what activities you already do, it’s likely you can assign them a stimulation / energy score. Consider the following bedtime routine*:

  • I change into my PJs (2)
  • I wash my face & brush my teeth (3)
  • I pray (1)
  • I prepare my work schedule & lay out my work clothes for the morning (4)
  • I get into bed (2)

If 1 is something on the low end of the scale and 5 is something on the high end, the scores may go as follows: 2 > 3 > 1 > 4 > 2. At night, we want to move from higher energy / stimulation to lower, so what we really want here is 4 > 3 > 2 > 2 > 1.

*This routine is from a former client who had a particularly stressful job. She did change the order and found herself falling asleep much more easily at night.

So now it’s your turn.

What does your typical, existing morning ritual look like?

  • List out the activities, and assign them a stimulation / energy score.
  • Is your morning ritual helping you gently move into your day by gradually increasing your energy?
  • Note any small tweaks can you make in the order or the activities themselves to better support yourself for the morning and your day.

And if like me, you recognize the unnaturalness of even the treasured car analogy, consider yourself a flower–one that opens during the day and closes at night[8].

When you reframe your image of your mind-body system in this way, you just might find yourself moving toward a new rhythm: one that intuitively supports your energy and your sleep, both day and night. 100% naturally.