Can Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) help you sleep better?

Traditionally, insomniacs have lent on sleeping pills, Hypnotherapy, Acupuncture and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to try and find the sleep that eludes them. CBT teaches you to recognise negative thoughts (I am worried I won’t get enough sleep tonight) and shut them down to avoid negative behaviours (now I can’t fall asleep as I am so worried about it).

However, there is now a new therapy available for insomniacs that advises against avoiding negative thoughts and it is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT.

“ACT helps you see how futile it can be putting energy into trying to change the thoughts and feelings that crop up around sleep. It teaches you to accept their presence and let them go, which in turn pushes you towards sleep”, says Guy Meadows, who has recently released ‘The Sleep Book’ that describes how to implement ACT techniques to ease sleeplessness over five weeks.

Early metacognitive research studies have shown a good outcomes, but what exactly is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

There are six steps that make up this approach:

  1. Acceptance

Rather than embarking on strategies such as hot baths, accept the things that show up when you try to sleep, such as unwanted thoughts.

  1. Mindfulness

Try and be in the present moment. Rather than worrying about the past, or what might happen in the future, take time out to ground yourself.

  1. Defusion

This is about defusing the sleep bomb: you need to start getting closer to and even playing with your unwanted thoughts and emotional reactions associated with insomnia in order to untangle yourself from them and lessen their power.

  1. Self in context

Put yourself and the situation into context. We have lots of stories playing in our heads: ‘I’m a failure’ or ‘no one likes me’ and ‘everyone else can sleep and I can’t’. Be able to put yourself into context and stand outside them.

  1. Values

Think about what’s important to you. Family? Your friends? Being healthy? If you could write your epitaph, what would you want it to say?

  1. Committed action

There’s no point valuing something if you don’t act upon it. There’s no point valuing being fit and healthy if you never go to the gym. This is about committing to act towards those values by making small steps every day. A happy brain is a sleepy brain.

These six steps come from the book ‘The Sleep Book’. To look into this programme in more detail you can purchase it here.

Stronger core = better sleep

Can getting stronger abs, get you better sleep? Damn straight it can! A strong core = better sleep.

Your diaphragm is a band of muscles that separates your internal organs (like your stomach, liver and colon) from your chest cavity (that contains your heart and lungs). The diaphragm is like a hammock that is pulled tight by your core muscles.

A solid core means a happier diaphragm which means healthier, deeper, more nourishing breathing.

So yes, a stronger core could mean better sleep for you if you suffer from conditions like sleep apnoea.

Your internal organs are housed within your core. Abdominal fat cushions and protects these organs from harm, however, too much abdominal fat can hurt your spine while standing and put pressure onto your vital organs while sleeping.

Strong abdominal and back muscles use fat to keep them functioning which helps burn up any unhelpful fat that is lying near them.

This helps to keep blood flowing to our organs so that they can perform optimally.

The larger you are, the harder your heart has to work. So strengthening your core could mean that your heart gets stronger and gets to relax more when you are sleeping.

A smaller waste circumference is linked to lower risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Lastly, your spine has to carry the excess load you lug around each day.

If back pain is keeping you up then strengthening your core could help reduce the pain and get you snoozing more deeply.

Furthermore, if your pain is so bad that you can only sleep when taking pain-killers, then strengthening your core could help you reduce the frequency and/or dosage of pain meds.

So what are you waiting for? Figure out what work outs work for you by trying into high-intensity, yoga or pilates to get a stronger core.

Help is here for blanket hoggers

Ikea has launched the TOG-ether bundle to help couples sleep better. Inspired by the Swedish tradition of using two single duvets rather than one queen sized duvet, the TOG-ether bundle gives each person their own amount of insulation, but at a cost that that can be is less than buying two single duvets.

Whist some feel that this will put an end to any snuggling, others are excited about the prospect of getting a better night’s sleep.

Many who co-sleep report that their sleep is broken-

  1. when they wake up and realize they are blanket-less
  2. when their partner wakes them up to reclaim what was their half of the blanket
  3. when they share a bed with someone with a totally opposing thermostat and wake up freezing and/or over-heating.

Any couple who differ in bedding needs will love this idea that puts an end to the midnight tale of waking up to find you have double the blankets you would like thanks to your sweaty loved one who has dumped their bedding onto you.

Ranked as the ninth happiest country in the world, perhaps the Swedes are onto something and we should all copy their now infamous sleep strategy.

What we do know at Sealy is that good sleep means a great life.

Get rid of fear – start here

A video clip of actor Will Smith has gone viral after the father shared an epiphany he had three years ago after going sky diving for the first time with friends on a talk show.

Will goes on to explain how facing his fear of skydiving has taught him that the only way to get rid of fear is to face it- each and every day.

If there was one concept that I would suggest to people to take a daily confrontation with its fear. The problem of fear is that it lies,” said Will.

Will goes on to explain how fear only exists before you face the perceived danger and that staring the actual danger in the face is “the most blissful experience of your life- there is zero fear. The point of maximum danger is the point of minimal fear. Its bliss.”

Many of us spend so much time fearing the things that have yet to happen or that might never happen that we avoid living life fully.

“There’s no reason to be scared. Its only gonna ruin your day…God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror.”

What are you scared of? Falling in love? Asking for a promotion? Moving into your own home? Looking foolish in front of your colleagues?

Facing your fears daily will allow you to live the way you truly want to rather than shrinking back.

Want more helpful strategies to live life to the fullest?

Check out these blog posts:

Beat Your Alarm Clock

With sleep trending and a good night’s sleep being the hallmark of a good life, it is no wonder that the ultimate sleep goal has become waking up when your body wants to, not when your body has to. Yes, waking up before your alarm wakes you is an actual #sleepgoal.

As an alarm-clock detester it is pleasing to note that our bodies hate alarm clocks as much as our minds do. Our bodies and minds find any sudden waking stressful and jarring. Interestingly, to avoid this traumatic experience our brains prepare for waking based on two things-

  1. Predictability- our routine shapes our circadian rhythm
  2. Expectations- what time we plan to wake up

So if you are not waking up before your alarm clock here is your go-to-action plan:

  • Schedule a predictable sleep-wake routine– go to bed at the same time during the week and on weekends. Easier said than done but sleeping from 11pm until 6.30am every day could give you the stable 7,5 hours you need.
  • Plan to wake at the end of a sleep cycle –Every 90 minutes adults come back to light sleep. It is easier to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle than in the middle of one. So if you need more than 7,5 hours, you will have to schedule in 9 hours sleep. So you sleep schedule would be from 9.30pm – 6.30am.
  • Get enough sleep– If you need 9 hours of sleep, then that is what your body needs. You will only be robbing yourself if you schedule in 6hours or 7,5 hours. Those who are young, active and perform work that requires mental agility will need more sleep. It is what it is.
  • Until you start waking up before your alarm set one alarm and avoid hitting snooze- Haziness. Grumpiness. This is what follows multiple snoozes. Your brain and body need to either be asleep or be awake- moving back and forward between the two states only creates brain fog. Place your alarm as far away from your bed as possible to give yourself more chance of making a good judgement call.

Ensure you fall asleep quickly and have a great night’s sleep by sleeping on a quality mattress. Visit www.sealy.co.za for more information.

Get fitter, sleep more

Could those who sleep longer, actually become fitter?

This is an interesting question as it challenges what we know about most gym buffs – that they train for long hours both before and after dark. Is it truly necessary to rise-and-shine at 4am to get fitter? Or could lying-in actually be a step towards, rather than away, from fitness?

Good sleep and fitness really are great friends.

  • Exercise promotes good, deep sleep. In turn, sleep promotes healing and repair which helps the body perform better during exercise.
  • Exercise produces endorphins that help improve mental health. In turn, a good mood supports regular exercise.
  • Exercise boosts the immune system. A good immune system helps good sleep, but good sleep also promotes a good immune system.

So rather than choosing one over the other, it appears that you may need to make-the-circle-bigger and find a way to embrace both a little more exercise and a little more sleep.

Not sure what you should be aiming for? The professionals recommend:

  1. one hour of activity preferably outside per day (this could be walking your dog, riding a bike to work or chasing your kids around the park)
  2. 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep each day (this could be taken in one stretch or broken up into smaller chunks)

If you can find both a fitness regime and a bed that you love then it should be easier to achieve both of these each and every day.

To find a bed you love visit www.sealy.co.za.

Read more

Five ways that sleep impacts an athlete’s performance

How to have less nightmares

Nightmares are truly terrifying. Our bodies do not distinguish between what we are dreaming and what is real and so waking after a nightmare can leave us with our heart racing and our bed sheets wet with sweat. A few of us may even be prone to a throwing a few punches or kicks (whilst fast asleep) in an attempt to defend ourselves during those particularly vivid zombie nightmares…

Whilst there is not much you can do once the nightmare has started, there are a few things you can do to decrease the frequency of your nightmares-

  1. Avoid upsetting content– What you see or hear just before bed can be critical. If you are sensitive viewer, then you may need to avoid the evening news or heated discussions just before bed. For example, choose some happy reading material such as a romance novel over a crime thriller…
  1. Write down you worries– Do not allow yourself to mull over stressful decisions just before you sleep. Write down any pressing concerns that keep intruding as you try to go to sleep. Keep a notebook next to your bed and deal with these in the morning.
  1. Avoid going to bed very late– Overtiredness can be a trigger for some individuals who are prone to nightmares. Try your best to get into bed each evening at a reasonable hour to help prepare your body for sleep.

Want to know more about nightmares? Check out these helpful blog posts.

Sweet dreams on your new Sealy bed. Discover our Mattress range and find your perfect fit

10 Things to try when you just can’t fall asleep

Pure Wow has released a sleep-inducing infographic that highlights 27 things that can be done to help you fall asleep.

What was significant is that most of these things have been featured on our Sealy blog over the years.

Here are 10 sleepiest (and easiest!) things you can do before bedtime (and many helpful links if you want more information about how to apply them):

Try these 10 Sleep Tricks

  1. Make a cup of calming chamomile tea
  2. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the gift of sleep
  3. Use essential oils such as lavender
  4. Try wearing socks to bed
  5. Get your pets out of your bedroom
  6. Write a list of all your worries
  7. Download a mindfulness meditation app such as Calm
  8. Get away from bright lights an hour before bedtime
  9. Try some bedtime yoga routines
  10. Take a warm bath

We would love to hear about your bedroom routine and what is your family’s sleep secret?

If you have a tried and tested sleep remedy that gets your whole family to bed, then please share it with us by adding it to the comments below.