Didn’t Get Much Sleep Last Night? Stop Talking About It!


Posted February 1st, 2020

About 10 years ago, I was at a 3-week training to become a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). This was an important milestone for me because I had studied NLP for about a decade and had finally committed to formally advancing my studies. I have a habit (or maybe it’s an identity) of being a Good Student, so after a night of tossing and turning, I woke up exhausted. I worried that everyone else would be able to tell just how fatigued I was, so I decided to pre-emptively tell the instructor “not to expect too much from me, because I didn’t get much sleep.” He looked at me, bored (this is when I learned that talking about one’s sleep habits does not make for clever conversation), but after a pause  said: “You’ll sleep tonight, won’t you? Stop telling yourself you’re tired. You’re just reinforcing the programming.”


And yet his blunt response made perfect sense to me. He didn’t say “Pshaw. You’re not tired” (denial) or  “Get over yourself, you whiny baby” (blame/shame) – he simply gave me a new way to think about my fatigue, and how my words – both to him but more importantly, to myself – were reinforcing exactly that which was uncomfortable.

So here’s the tip:

If you didn’t get much sleep last night, and you woke up tired, and you’re unable to spend a few extra hours in bed because you have a Busy Life awaiting your participation, do not speak of it. Not to your friends, your family, your Facebook followers, your journal, your cat….zip it. Because the more you focus on how “tired” your are, the more you’re reinforcing the fatigue. And odds are good that you’ll be able to give it another try in 14-16 hours.

Do take care of yourself. Do move intentionally, drink lots of water and show up as best you can. Meditation helps. And if it’s affecting your health and safety overall, see a professional. The internet is filled with advice on this very subject. For me, however, this tiny tip was most effective: just stop the internal/external narration about your sleep deficit. I do this regularly, with great results.

Let me know how it goes for you!

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