Stress vs. excitement.

Usually I sleep soundly throughout the night.

However, recently I went through a multi-day period during which I lay awake for 1-3 hours in the middle of the night. I was trying to sleep but my mind was racing instead. A few things were going on and my mind wanted to figure them out rather than rest.

At the time I characterized the experience as stress. “I am under too much stress and it’s keeping me up at night.” I viewed this as a negative bad thing.

But the projects I was working on were by choice (whereas, for contrast, there are times where my mind will over something that is less by choice, if a client is upset for example) and they were exciting things happening. I had things to figure out. That was challenging. But is it over stress that I should be concerned about? Or is it simply a period of time during which my mind is working extra hard because I get to do exciting things?

I was miserable lying awake. What if I had simply gotten up to start working? And what if I’d embraced this period instead of feeling that I had overstretched and was being miserable?

Jim Collins has a twenty minute rule. If he wakes in the middle of the night and does not fall asleep within 20 minutes then he gets up.

What if I had simply followed this. Without judgment. Without worry that I wouldn’t sleep well again. Rather, an acknowledgment that I was in a period of time that involved more work and my mind was going to work whether in bed or out?

Many people have serious trouble sleeping, and this post does not address getting better sleep (among the top priorities for overall health). Rather, I am wrestling with how I characterized and what I did during my sleepless nights. I think I have a lesson to learn for better mental health and I am sharing for anyone who may go through similar periods.

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