Sometimes you have a big day ahead, and despite your best efforts, you just cannot fall asleep the night before.
It’s terrible, and there’s no easy way out. The more you think about every precious moment of rest you are wasting before the big day, the less you rest and the less likely it is that you will fall asleep.
So, when it’s around 3 am, you are desperately moving in search of a comfortable spot, and the neighbour (or your kid, or your cat) has decided to wake up just when you were about to close your eyes, there are some things you can work out to prepare for the day.
Start by focusing on the few items you absolutely have to deliver the next day. Keep the list as short as possible, 1-item list is the best possible list. Make it simple, and make it so it will not require a lot of energy (you will not have a lot of energy, so you are probably not going to run a marathon or single-handedly change your organisation culture that very day). Forget about the rest. It is most likely not urgent anyway.
Make a story about what happened. A real one, possibly. But if the reason you could not sleep embarrasses you, make a fake one. A story to share with people you’ll meet to explain why you look like a zombie and don’t think straight. A story to repeat to yourself. It can be as simple as “I had a harsh night”, or as elaborated as “I could not sleep well last night, because I was slightly agitated in view of today, and then when I was falling asleep, my son had a terrible nightmare and he climbed onto our bed and clung to me for the rest of the night shaking”.
Finally, remember that you had a difficult night and you are not your best self. Do not have unrealistic expectations on what you can achieve (the list will help), and repeat yourself that this is not who you usually are (the story will help). Be kind and compassionate, as in most circumstances you are the one putting pressure on yourself for the day ahead.
If you get through the day without beating yourself up too much, you’ll sleep beautifully the following night and will get started again with new energy.