Are You Ready To Put This Election To Bed? So You Can Get Some Sleep

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Okay. It’s getting to all of us. We are bombarded with a barrage of election news, much of it negative, fear inducing, mean, and riddled with other stress and anxiety evoking attributes. Call it election angst. Call it worry. Call it what you want but it’s impacting people’s days… and their nights.

Mental health can be challenged by many factors, but this contentious election is leading therapists to report an unusual surge of election anxiety, fear, irritability, and anger from patients. According to the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election. And for Republicans and Democrats it’s about even.

What’s behind this? People are feeling less safe. Their fears are deep, as is the anger, causing some to avoid family and friends with whom they disagree. It’s not just in the USA that this election is causing anxiety and even sleepless nights. Even our Canadian neighbors are tired from our intense election. Post-debate sleep disturbance has been prevalent both here and in Canada, especially if watching the debate in bed.

One of the presidential candidates even brags about sleep deprivation. But the tide is turning and corporate leadership is taking note as research clearly depicts the negative impact on performance, safety, health, and more when a person is sleep deprived. Take a moment to google politicians and executives falling asleep in meetings, important ones. Aside from research confirming sleep deprivation links to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain, there’s also research confirming that sleep deprivation leads to poor executive functioning such as decision making and concentration. For a potential leader of a country to brag about their sleep deficit, it’s frightening.

So what’s an election-fatigued citizen, or prospective citizen, to do? And add in those beyond our borders for whom our election has consequences. Finding peace these days can require a hiatus from election news. I took a few weeks off, using my will power to resist the latest updates on this contentious competition for President of the United States of America.

Here are election survival tips from Neely Benn, LCSW at Northshore University HealthSystem, as reported on WGN news in Chicago:

  • Turn off your news feed, whatever the source, especially in the hours before bedtime.

  • Read enough just to stay informed.

  • Take time for yourself, unplugged. Go for a walk, do some deep breathing, play with your children or a dog, spend time with family and friends and laugh.

  • Avoid election discussions that are provocative or if there’s a risk it will escalate.

  • Channel your election anxiety and stress by taking action: vote or volunteer regarding issues you find important. Encourage others to do the same. Worrying passively about the election is not productive.

Okay, now that you’ve taken some steps during the day, what can you do to ensure a good night’s sleep when election anxiety and fear are compromising your slumber? If your dreams are being usurped by election woes or you’re having nightmares about election outcomes, how can you surrender to slumber in peace?

Having a healthy sleep routine is always important, but during times like this unusual election season when stress and anxiety are seemingly everywhere, here are some ways to transition to slumber in a peaceful, calm way:

  • Engage in relaxing evening activities. Watch a good movie or non-stressful program. Avoid the news in the hours before bedtime. If you work nights, don’t watch the news after your shift before going to sleep.

  • Put technology to bed at least an hour before going to sleep.

  • Read a book just before bed, something peaceful and not election related.

  • Once in bed, practice mindfulness or breathing techniques. This keeps you present and focused.

  • As you lay down, think of things you are grateful for and indulge in gratitude. When feeling grateful, you can’t be angry or fearful. A gratitude practice is an antidote to stress.

  • Program your subconscious in the moments before sleep. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer instructs in his book Wishes Fulfilled, this is the perfect time to prepare yourself to enter the unconscious state of sleep. Think of your subconscious as a programmable hard drive that responds to what’s been programmed into it. These moments are a precious time before slumber takes over. Choose to send messages to your subconscious that align with what you want to see in your life.

So until November 8, I hope these sleep tips help you put yourself to bed. The election will be put to bed soon enough. And as our new President begins to deal with the national debt come January, I hope she will pay attention to our sleep debt, a dangerous reality with myriad consequences. For our leaders, good, clear decision making is paramount, as is a good night’s sleep.

The election will be put to bed in a week. Alas! Will you rest well when it’s over? For many, this depends on the outcome for many. But electing to embrace a healthy dose of perspective and a good sleep routine can go a long way to a great night’s sleep.