Habits. Things you do automatically without thinking about them, or about how to do them. Habits help you operate in life.
But a habit can make your life miserable when it doesn’t serve your needs. What? Why would anyone develop a habit that doesn’t serve their needs? They wouldn’t, but the way our brains work is we develop habits from the things we routinely think and do. What we’re talking is conditioning, or you could say programming. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, and time goes on and you continue having trouble sleeping, you may be in the early stages of developing a no-sleep habit. Then you’ll have trouble sleeping not only because of the original reason or reasons that kept you awake, but also because you’ve developed the habit of not sleeping.
If this is your situation, what you need is to establish a new pattern of sleep behavior. In other words you need to change your conditioning or reprogram yourself. No, you don’t need an intervention. But you do need to establish new behaviors that can eventually lead to a new habit, the habit of sleeping. You can establish this new habit by being aware of what you’re doing, and then making the appropriate changes in your thoughts and behaviors. It won’t happen in a few nights, but over time you can change.
Start with your thoughts. You’re habitual thoughts drive your behavior. For example, do you automatically associate sleep with negative thoughts, for example with thoughts that you might not be able to sleep, or won’t get enough sleep, or perhaps you’re angry because you can’t sleep?
Make an effort to change those thoughts so that you think of sleep, and the time before going to sleep, as a pleasant, relaxing time. This sounds like positive thinking, or the same things as making positive affirmations to change behavior. Positive thinking and affirmations have their place. But what we’re talking about here is changing your habitual negative thoughts to positive thoughts. You need to get rid of the negative and replace it with the positive.
You must think of sleep as a relaxing time, but you also need to start relaxing. In other words, you need to change your just-before-sleep behavior. You might, for example, use the couple of hours before sleep to relax with meditation, music, a warm bath that includes aromatherapy and soft lights, or perhaps reading a book that helps you calm yourself from the day’s activities.
To make a real change, that is to make a new habit, you’ll need to do one more thing.
It’s the thing that creates the habit. You must do this every night. This “relaxation” time must become your new routine. Remember, habits are made by doing something over and over again.
So you change your thoughts, which leads to changing your behavior, and you make that new behavior a habit by doing it every night. You’ll be well on your way to new habits, habits that will lead you into a good night’s sleep.