A Real-Time Walkthrough: How I Manage Anticipatory Insomnia Ahead of Time
Last updated: August 2023
I haven't had a real holiday in nearly 2 years. After much work and being executor for a deceased family member, I am finally getting a break.
I am going on holiday! Are we there yet!? My partner and our children get up early tomorrow to fly to the US from the UK for a 7-day cruise. And I know I won't sleep well tonight. So, what is a girl to do?
I thought I'd walk you through my day as I work on my plan to minimize the impact of my excitement on tonight's sleep.
Putting planning in place
First things first: I recognize that I am 'predicting the future' and making it more likely that I won't sleep well by anticipating that I won't sleep well. But - I have learned over time that acknowledging that chance and putting some planning into place is better than pretending it might not happen.
I know I prepared for today by staying up late last night and getting up early. I did this to help build maximum sleep drive for this evening, which increases the chances that I'll sleep more deeply. And - as I'm travelling west, staying up late in the days before helps me minimize jet lag - or at least not fall asleep at the dinner table. I'll be closer to local time than if I kept my usual bedtime.
I packed yesterday. And then I double-checked it today. This trip is easier than some I have taken. Not much clothing variety is needed - it will always be hot. Packing and double-checking means I'm less likely to wake up saying, "Oh, don't forget..." Or rushing at the last minute. Even as I was sitting here - I realized I had forgotten something.
In reality, though, what can go wrong? It's a safe, warm environment. Wearing a dress for 2 days across a week isn't going to hurt me if it comes to that. I won't recheck it, as this can reinforce to my brain that bad things will happen if I don't. I don't want to give those thoughts credit.
The night before
I'm about to make dinner. We'll eat a bit later than usual and a bit more than usual. This is partly so I am closer to 'local' time in the US. And, waking at night, for me, can sometimes be caused by not eating enough. I'm going to top up the fuel tank!
I've laid out my clothes for the travel and packed my handbag with my essentials: my earphones and my knitting! I am very fidgety, and even a small person like me gets uncomfortable in an economy seat. Having a project to work on really helps me look forward to the whole experience.
Managing anticipatory insomnia
Lastly, I know that even if I don't sleep well, it will be fine. This takes the pressure off. I'll only feel stressed and not sleep if I lay there thinking, "I have to sleep, I have to sleep, I have to sleep."
I let that anxiety go and truly accepted that regardless of what happens tonight, tomorrow will begin, and I can create my day my way.
How do you prepare yourself for a big 'next day' in a way that supports your sleep?
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?