The children are asleep. The house is quiet. You're exhausted. Time to sleep.
But you can't.
Your mind is rehashing the day. Thoughts come up about tomorrow, next week, the future.
And then you start worrying about not being able to sleep. You look at the clock. Time is moving.
You think "how am I going to get through tomorrow?"
You try deep breathing. That helps. But your mind is still going.
You say to yourself "stop thinking and go to sleep".
You put on relaxation music, but your mind is still going.
You start to feel anxious.
You count sheep, but your thoughts creep back in.
The more you 'try' to sleep, the more sleep eludes you.
Sleep onset difficulties strike many busy parents. Dr Luc Beaudoin, is an adjunct Professor in Cognitive Science at Simon Fraser University. He says that when our brain's executive function is 'firing', we are accessing memory, evaluation, planning, scheduling, and problem solving. He refers to this as "mental peturbance". When these mental actions are in play, our brains are too active to settle to sleep.
Dr Beaudoin has developed a simple cognitive tool that interrupts and counteracts these processes. It's called "cognitive shuffling".
The approach moves you from of a high state of alertness, towards drifting off to sleep. Cognitive shuffling scrambles your thoughts so that your brain can't try to make sense of things. It interrupts the processes of memory, evaluation, planning, scheduling and problem solving.
Here's how it's done.
Sleep deprivation is a harsh reality of parenthood, but there's nothing more frustrating than not being able to sleep because of your own mind. Dr Beaudoin's cognitive shuffling technique, may be the answer to settling your busy mind, and optimising your sleep.
If you need a little help, Dr Beaudoin has translated cognitive science into a sleep app called mysleepbutton.com®.
Written by Dr Renée Miller
Perinatal Clinical Psychologist
Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network