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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Brindley

The Best Sleep Goals…are Not Goals…


Originally published on the Baloo Living sleep blog, The Curl Up.


Utilizing a goal mindset is very tempting when you desire better sleep; however, this mindset has limitations. While setting goals can be very beneficial, there are circumstances where goal-setting can increase the likelihood of failure, especially when it comes to insomnia. I recommend that clients in my sleep consulting practice shift from the mindset of setting sleep goals to setting sleep intentions.


What’s the difference?


Goals are specific, measurable, and time-bound, sometimes leading to rigidity. Intentions, however, allow for a more fluid and adaptive approach. They focus on the broader direction you want to move in, giving you room to adjust as circumstances change and leaving space for self-compassion.


Why I focus clients on their sleep intentions


  • Intentions emphasize the present moment and the journey itself rather than just the end result; this can be beneficial for personal growth, mindfulness, and well-being, as it encourages you to be more aware of and engaged in the present.

  • Intentions focus on emotional well-being. They are designed to align with your values and emotions, promoting a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  • Intentions come with less pressure when it comes to sleep. Goals can create pressure, especially when they include strict deadlines like, "I will beat my insomnia by a certain date." Intentions are more forgiving, aligning them better with self-care and stress management.

  • Setting sleep intentions fosters a more holistic approach to sleep. 

  • Intentions allow for adaptability and can shift with the evolving understanding of your needs and desires. 


It's important to note that intentions and goals are not mutually exclusive. They can complement each other. Setting an intention can help you clarify the broader direction you want to take, and then you can set specific goals to work towards that intention. Goals can provide the actionable steps needed to manifest your intention.

It's essential to choose the method that aligns with your values, motivates you, and helps you progress toward your desired outcomes.


My how-to guide for setting compassionate and loving sleep intentions


Before bed, choose a quiet and comfortable space on your bed to focus without distractions. Decide to focus on something other than the outcome of your sleep that night. Know that whatever happens is OK. Before getting started, make sure your sleep environment is peaceful. I find Baloo's Daydreamer weighted blanket very grounding when draped across my legs. 

 

Breathwork 

Breathing is essential before setting a sleep intention to clear your mind and body of unwanted negative energy. Inhale with your nose, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for ten seconds. Focus your mind on your breathing. Do this breathing exercise three times. Begin to focus on your sleep intention. 


Reflect on your day 

Take a moment to reflect on your day, including the positive and challenging aspects. 


Call upon gratitude

Consider your accomplishments and the things in your life for which you are grateful. You can be grateful for anything, not just the biggies.


Set a positive intention: 


Think about what you want to achieve through your sleep and what you want to carry into the next day. This intention should be positive and uplifting. I advise choosing one per night. 

Some examples include:

  • "I intend to have a peaceful and restful night's sleep."

  • "I intend to wake up refreshed and energized in the morning."

  • "I intend to let go of any stress or worries and relax completely."

  • "I intend to have pleasant dreams and wake up with a sense of gratitude."

  • "If I wake in the night, I will not judge the waking and will welcome the time to be alone."

  • If I have difficulty sleeping, I will let go of negative and unhelpful thoughts about myself."

  • If I wake up tonight, I will tell myself everything is OK, and I am OK."

  • "I will let go of worry and self-doubt if I wake up tonight."

 

Repeat your intention: 

Say your intention aloud or repeat it in your mind. Visualize the desired outcome, focusing on how it makes you feel.


Deep breathing: 

Take a few deep breaths while you hold your intention. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth.


Let go of worries: 

If you have any worries or stresses, acknowledge them and make a note to address them tomorrow. Allow your mind to bring its focus back to your sleep intention.


Stay mindful: 

As you drift off to sleep, try to maintain a sense of mindfulness and relaxation. If your mind starts to race, gently bring it back to your positive intention or your breath.


In the morning….


Acknowledge and accept: 

If it was a rough night, the first step is acknowledging that you did not meet your intention and accepting it without self-judgment. Failing to meet an intention is a part of the learning process.


Practice self-compassion: 

Be kind to yourself. It's normal to face challenges and setbacks. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend in a similar situation.


Adjust expectations:

Sometimes, we set intentions with unrealistic expectations. Reevaluate your expectations and be prepared for the possibility of further setbacks.

 

Remember that personal growth and achieving intentions often involve a series of failures and successes. Each setback is an opportunity to learn, grow, and refine your approach. Failing to meet an intention does not reflect your worth, nor is it a marker or indicator that you will have insomnia forever; it's merely a part of the journey toward a good night's sleep. 

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