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  • In this video I'm going to talk about how worry and anxiety can make it hard

  • to fall asleep, and I'll teach you how to train your brain to stop worrying at

  • night. Do you ever have that problem when your brain won't shut off? Like you're

  • tired from a long day and you're finally getting to bed after all of your to-do's

  • and then you just lay there not sleeping and then your brain starts to bring to

  • mind like every possible worry like oh I wish I hadn't said that,

  • or how are we gonna afford those car repairs, or you start thinking through

  • everything you have to do tomorrow and before long you're wide awake and you're

  • getting more and more frustrated. I'm Emma McAdam, I'm a licensed Marriage

  • and Family Therapist and today you're gonna learn one powerful skill so that

  • you can fall asleep when you're worried or anxious. Now this video is not

  • a quick fix because I'm going to teach you a lasting solution to worry based

  • insomnia. So if you're watching this video right now and you're hoping to

  • fall asleep I will tell you what to do tonight but that's gonna come after I

  • teach this lasting solution. This video is sponsored by Manta Sleep they make

  • some amazingly soft sleep masks they are so comfortable they're super

  • customizable so you can move these eye pads around and they also block out like 100%

  • of the light in the room. One of my favorite things about these masks is that they put like no pressure on your eyeballs because of their unique

  • shape and this is you know a valuable tool because the light that enters your

  • eyes sends a message to our brain about how awake we need to be. So bright blue

  • light environments can trigger our brain to be alert and to be active, and dark

  • cool light environments can trigger your brain to turn on those sleep signals. Go

  • to mantasleep.com and use the code nutshell to get a 10% discount. Now in

  • this video we're going to talk about how you can train your brain to fall asleep

  • faster, even when you're anxious, and using a sleep mask like this one from

  • Manta can help your brain turn on that sleep response. So check out the link in

  • the description to learn more about Manta's products and to get a discount.

  • Now our brains and our bodies are naturally good at sleeping, they like to

  • sleep. So if we're not sleeping well then it's often because we've developed some

  • habitual way of keeping our brain turned on.

  • I mean we've gotten in the way of our own natural sleep response and having a

  • consistent routine before bed like wearing a sleep mask or doing other

  • sleep hygiene routines can help your brain start to turn on those sleep

  • hormones like melatonin and that's because our brain likes to

  • make these paired associations. So a bedtime routine gets paired with that

  • feeling of sleepiness and I go into a lot more detail on this in my video on

  • triggers. So just like when you watch an ad with like a really beautiful

  • hamburger and your mouth maybe starts to water that's a paired association and

  • what we do right before we go to sleep can help our brain turn on that sleep

  • response in the same way, it's the same type of paired association. So one thing

  • that often happens with people with insomnia is that they developed the

  • habit of thinking through their day when they laid down. So when you do this

  • repeatedly instead of associating your bed or laying down with that

  • sleepy time, your brain associate your bed with worry time, and when we've

  • practiced this over and over again now the brain starts to think lying down

  • let's get to work and we've developed this trained response. We've taught our

  • brain through habit that the time to worry is bedtime. But the good news is

  • your brain is built to rewire itself it's built to pair and to unpair these

  • associations. So all we have to do is to retrain our brain to associate the bed

  • with sleeping. But as Nick Wignall says, " If you want your dog to stop pooping on

  • the grass you have to train it to poop somewhere else." So we have to train our

  • brain to worry elsewhere, we can't just force our brains to stop worrying and

  • that's because worry serves a function. It's our brain trying to keep us safe, to

  • get things done and to make sure that we take care of tasks.

  • So productive worry it helps us remember to take out the trash or to pay our

  • bills. Worry helps us take action and prevent problems. However, unproductive

  • worry it pops up at the wrong time or it leads us to endless hypotheticals, or it

  • spirals into these thinking patterns that leave us feeling anxious and this

  • can flood our body with stress hormones and it can even leave us feeling anxious

  • about anxiety, like 'oh no I'm worried that I'm gonna worry so much that I

  • can't sleep'. The antidote to worrying when trying to

  • sleep is to process through emotions and worries and thoughts when you're awake.

  • You need to just face your crap during the day, let your brain have time to

  • process through the worry. So one of the reasons that you worry at night is

  • because you keep yourself so busy or so distracted throughout the day that your

  • brain doesn't have the time to process and work through your concerns.

  • Let's compare your brain to a computer for a minute, let's compare worry to how

  • a computer needs to do updates. So computers have to take little breaks

  • once in a while to update their system, to organize their files or to you know

  • update some piece of software. But if they're constantly prompting you to do

  • an update and you're always too busy to take a break from what you're doing, then

  • eventually either the computer is going to break or it's going to force you to

  • do an update at an inconvenient time. It's got these urgent tasks you know

  • like whatever's going on in the forefront of your mind,

  • or whatever's keeping you busy in the moment and then it's also got these

  • important tasks, which you can put them off for a little while but if

  • you keep putting it off eventually your brain is going to bring it to mind when

  • you have nothing else to distract yourself with. So when we keep our brain

  • busy or distracted throughout the whole day this doesn't give our brain the

  • chance to work through our worries until we try to go to sleep. So we all live in

  • this culture of distraction. I mean people take their phones to the bathroom

  • with them because two minutes of sitting there it just seems too boring.

  • We often have distraction running while we're driving, exercising, eating, almost

  • every minute of the day, and this prevents your brain from being

  • able to run those background tasks like worry. So distraction stops you from

  • resolving those worries when you're awake

  • and because you've put it off the worries pop up at night and then they

  • trigger that stress response and that keeps you awake. So, if you want to stop

  • worrying when you lay down at night, you need to slow down during the day and

  • spend time away from your devices and let your brain process through those

  • worries during the day. Now because this is kind of vague like it's this big

  • picture task that requires some like little efforts throughout the day I'm

  • going to teach you one small change that's really concrete that you can do

  • every day that's going to help you fall asleep.

  • So going back to the computer analogy if you don't want your computer to force an

  • update when you're supposed to be presenting your thesis you just need to

  • do the update earlier. So when it comes to worry, this means you need to plan in

  • time to worry on purpose, this is deliberate worry.

  • Deliberate worry means that you're intentionally and consistently making a

  • time each day to address your worries and to make a plan. So this sends a

  • message to your brain that you're going to take care of it so that it doesn't

  • have to keep reminding you when you're trying to go to sleep. So your brain is

  • kind of like a nagging mom do you want your mom to stop asking you to do your

  • chores? If you take out the trash, if you just do it then she'll stop asking. So if

  • you want your brain to stop worrying at night what you need to do is address the

  • worries during the day. So the first step is to plan in a time each day to sit

  • down and write down each of your worries. You just choose a consistent time and it

  • usually will only take about 5 to 15 minutes. But if you've been avoiding a

  • lot of things for a long time then it might take longer at first, and

  • eventually with practice this is just going to take a few minutes each day. Now

  • don't do this right before bed. So right after lunch or maybe like right after

  • dinner it would be a good time sometime in the afternoon. Choose a good time for

  • you and set a reminder in your phone. When you're doing deliberate worry you

  • need to write down your worries, this is really

  • important. There's something about writing things down that makes worries a lot

  • more manageable, and as you plan this into your schedule just plan to do this

  • consistently for a few weeks. Like this is not a quick fix, this is a lasting

  • solution. Okay so on to step two after making your list you need to sort

  • through your worries. So your brain is amazingly powerful at thinking through

  • future possibilities and imagining outcomes and this is what makes humans

  • able to build skyscrapers and iPhones. But it also means that your brain can

  • imagine worst-case scenarios and catastrophes no matter how unhelpful it

  • is to do that, or how unlikely those catastrophes are. So ,after you've written

  • down your list, you want to go through your list and highlight which worries

  • are actionable. So you are going to separate worries that you can act on

  • from worries that are hypothetical or imagined danger. So this doesn't mean

  • that they're fake or that they're impossible it just means that they're

  • not something that you're gonna choose to act on in the present moment.

  • So for example with coronavirus hypothetical worries might be something

  • like 'What if this lasts for years?', or 'What if I catch it?', and actionable

  • worries might be what are reasonable preventative measures I can take, or how

  • can I schedule my day tomorrow during lockdown. Okay, on to step 3. For the

  • actionable worries create a plan. Write down the next smallest action, use a verb

  • an action word and then set a reminder, set a reminder to take the smallest

  • action tomorrow to do the smallest step. So if you're worried about a long day

  • ahead of you put a reminder in your phone for tomorrow morning to make a

  • schedule for your day, or if you're worried about protective gear make a

  • plan to look up patterns for a homemade mask. You don't need to solve all your

  • problems, you just need to choose the next smallest actionable step and make a

  • reminder for it. Okay step four is acceptance. Some problems can't be solved

  • right away and they need to be accepted. So what you're going to do with those is

  • set those aside wholeheartedly and you could even say this out loud 'I

  • can't do everything at once', or say 'I can't control everything'. This is really

  • all about understanding your locus of control, what is and what isn't in your

  • realm of control. Now in my opinion worry is about unresolved issues, issues

  • that you haven't faced and either taken action on or actively chosen to accept.

  • So it is a choice to choose not to act. Worry comes up when we haven't resolved

  • what to do and our brain keeps prompting us to face it and to make some decision

  • about it. Worry basically says over and over again 'do I need to do something?'.

  • It's like a cloud that hovers over us and by planning in time for deliberate

  • worry it's like taking that cloud turning it into rain like some solid

  • water and then you've got something more manageable something you can do

  • something with. So deliberate worry answers that question with a yes or a no.

  • Step 5. Shifting your focus. When you've taken the time to face your worries on

  • purpose it's time to be intentional about what your brains going to pay

  • attention to. So I recommend shifting your perspective

  • to gratitude. Spend a little time remembering the things that are going

  • well, remind yourself of your successes. I personally I have a routine I do before

  • bedtime, where I write down some of my wins for

  • the day and I practice a little bit of gratitude before I go to sleep. Lastly, if