Thoughts, Feelings, Sleep

What’s the connection?

Think about this.

With every thought and feeling, you are affirming something.

What you affirm, what you think and feel,  add up neuron by neuron into the neuropathways of the brain that become an ambient mood than leans in the direction of a way of believing and thinking.

It is not as though we base our thoughts on facts; to the contrary, that is seldom the case unless make that our intention.

Every thought and feeling is affirming something that is a building block upon which you are building your predisposition to mood and thought.

What are you affirming throughout the day?

What is your mood, what are your feelings, what are you thinking?

In our Emotional Gym, you learn to “lift” the weight of a positive emotion.

You start small and then make the feeling heavier, weightier. You can learn to get there in instant, you can learn to nurse a positive feeling in the same way you nurse a negative one, and then you can intensify those feelings.

What are you affirming as you think and feel?

Why feelings and not thoughts?

We think our thoughts are all powerful, but they are very often simply the expressions of patterns of “used to” feelings that have originated in the oldest part of the brain, the amygdala.

There we have learned to associate and feel almost instantaneously the feelings we so subtly and usually feel, that we don’t even know they are driving our moods, our anxieties, and our ups and downs.

And in case you’re skeptical about these thought and feeling patterns you’re creating every day, here’s the research on sleep that you need to know.

You need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

This gives the brain an opportunity to flush out the “clutter” that builds up, like protein plaques and beta amyloid tangles, through an ingenious disposal mechanism called the glymphatic system.

Over the long term, that can buffer you against cognitive decline, dementia, even Alzheimer’s.

What you think and feel, what you habitually “affirm” during your day, MATTERS.

What are you affirming as you enter into sleep?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dwayne Paro

    I have found that I have negative feelings for various situations and/or events that have been shaped by past experience. These feelings then shape my thoughts as those interactions are about to occur leading to stress and anxiety. Since starting this class I’ve started using the 4 R’s to create pathways to make the experiences positive, allow myself to feel the negative but recognize what it is and not allow it to have meaning in the current situation. When we talk about these emotions being in your neurons I can mentally picture that as it has such a profound effect that it feels like its in the very “Fibers” of my being. Practicing gratitude at night is a great way to ensure while you sleep that you are building positive neuropathways to replace any negative ones you have developed. This in addition to the release of clutter at night brings a sense of relief and a fresh start the next day. The key is not start your morning with putting the clutter back in. Using the various scales we have learned, US, ES and VS in conjunction with the journaling of what you want for the day allows us to step out with the right focus and in an upspiral for the day. Being able to affirm positive emotions daily is very important to making it a part of who we are and how we grow.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Umm. Interesting to ponder that what you not only think but feel throughout the day is in essence what you process when you sleep. No wonder we need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. And what we think and feel creates neurons that create neuropathways and on and on.

    It’s so important to be conscious and intentional about what we think and feel – all the time – or at least most of the time.

    That idea can get a little heavy for me at times so I just remember that my ambience is connected to the radio program (in my head) that I’m tuned into. Radio station “Live Life with Ease” with a little “Zest” thrown in makes for happy listening.

    “What are you affirming today?” Wouldn’t that be a more engaging greeting than “How are you today?” When you are truly conscious, you know and understand that how you feel, what you think and what you believe are all parts of what you are affirming. Better to be conscious and choose wisely and positively to be healthy and happy.

    I concur with Dr. Larkin: “What you think and feel, what you habitually ‘affirm’ during your day, MATTERS!” Amen!

  • Kathy Lee

    I am practicing the gratitude pulsing just before falling asleep. It seems to help me fall asleep with very positive emotions in place at the time my eyes close. Starting the day with Plans to the Universe, doing the practices during the day, four emotions pulsing, prayer hands, SES, calendar, Vibcore score, etc., is beginning to build a new “lean” toward the positive for most of the day now. Adding the gratitude reflection at the end of the day makes sense for mood management one last time before falling asleep. I wonder if falling asleep while in a positive mood impacts the nature of our dreams? I notice I’m falling asleep happy and this is a new awareness.

    • Echo Macdonald

      I have found this to be true also. If I pulse thoughts of Peace as I’m falling asleep, I am able to fall asleep faster. Dreams seem more vivid.

  • Sheila

    On reading Dr Larkin’s post on sleep, I initially felt a bit of anxiety. It reiterated and reinforced the idea that every thought and feeling that we have is building those neural pathways, for, a positive or negative outcome and that is “serious” stuff!

    Especially, as until starting this course 6 weeks ago, I had no idea just how important this all was……..

    In some ways it’s quite scary to realise that I have been living on the planet for all these years unconsciously building up some super highways in my head. Yet on the other hand, my up spiral self knows that I have also built some good stretches of highway, so, there’s hope and at least on a go forwards basis things can change, because now I have knowledge and some tools.

    I used to think sleep was a bit over rated until I couldn’t sleep and definitely then felt the negative effect of that. Now everywhere I go, a different expert seems to be stressing the need……Doctor, Naturopath, Personal Trainer……they all have different reasons as to why they believe it is so important, but, none are as compelling as this.

    I know that when I follow my sleep routine and close my eyes on positive thoughts, the quality of my sleep is so very different, as is my waking up. Now all that remains is becoming consistent with that routine and thereby reaping all the undeniable benefits.

  • Kalah Vaughan

    I am very happy to read the research on sleep. I have read many places that 6 plus hours of sleep is good for you. I always had the saying in my mind “sleep when you are dead.” For this reason I was envious of the people that could sleep 4-6 hours than wake up productive. I now know that I was wrong. Sleeping 7-9 hours to let the “clutter” release through my glymphatic system is much more understandable. If waking with an uncluttered mind doesn’t entice you than the buffering your mind against cognitive decline, dementia, even Alzheimer’s definitely will.

    I have tried to list out what I am grateful for before I went to bed many times before I have taken this course. The reasons I had were also explained in this post. I understood a long time ago, feelings are much more powerful attractors than thoughts. At the time I was using a strength (gratitude) without even knowing it was one of my top strengths. Like anything else, I would list my gratitude for the day to get the rush of the feeling thankful, but after a few days I would fall off the wagon. Being a part of this course really helps bring my gratitude nightly feelings back. To be able to think of the importance described to me of falling asleep in gratitude really keeps me on track to follow through nightly. I have experienced waking up in a calmer ease. I found the nights that I do this that I am not having as many nightmares. It also helps me be appreciative of where I am on my journey and I love it!

  • Yolanda Smith

    In reading Dr. Larkin’s post about your thoughts and feelings before going to sleep, it confirmed what I have believed for a long time about the activity that you allow to go on prior to falling asleep. For example, sometime ago I decided that once it got dark outside, I would not watch the news or any show that contained violence or negativity. I believed that that type of activity would remain in my mind as I slept, therefore causing me to be restless and not get good sleep. Honestly, there was no scientific reason why I did this, I just knew that it made a difference.

    You often hear motivational speakers or people who are driven to succeed make the statement, “No sleep” or “I’ll sleep when I die!”. For some reason, whenever I would hear either of these statements it would irritate me. I asked Dr. Johnson about this during a class, and I loved his response that it’s “baloney!” While I disagree with the notion of living on the lack of sleep, at the same time I would find myself feeling like a lazy slacker if I slept over six hours.

    Dr. Larson stated in his past that we need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep, which makes much more sense to me. If Someone is truly interested in having a healthy brain and a productive life, then they must take more seriously, The research on the benefits of getting proper rest.

    In regards to your activity prior to going to sleep, expressing gratitude, focusing on my strengths and remaining and an UpSpiral state, makes a huge difference when laying your head on the pillow at the end of the night. In the beginning of this class, I wasn’t sure that any of these practices would really make a difference in my life, but boy was I wrong! I chose to remain open to learning something new, in order to take my life in a new and more positive direction.

  • Yvette Gauff

    Over the years, loved ones have encouraged me to get more sleep. I have always found myself to be quite the night owl, enjoying staying up late to work on business ideas, and the
    like. Late night has always been a productive time for me. Popular ‘wisdom’ encouraged ‘no sleep’ to get ahead. However, since we spoke of sleep in the very first class, discussing the long term effects a lack of sleep can have on the brain, I see how detrimental my sleeplessness is and I am working to improve it.

    The idea that our sleep time is the brain’s opportunity to ‘dump’ what it has been carrying throughout the day is additional cause to be more mindful of what I personally put in it. Media provides us with opportunity to fill our psyche with lots of negativity right before bedtime. I know many people who have a routine of getting in bed, and watching the news before drifting off to sleep. Or purposely sleeping with the television on. Obviously, not a good set up for restful sleep, especially if the hours are not enough to provide for a good purging. It seems better to not partake of such negativity at all. Fortunately, I stopped watching the news long ago. And though others find it odd, I don’t miss not having a television. However, I see there is room for more improvement. For example, I thought
    crying one’s self to sleep was more a release and not necessarily a negative. Given the data presented here by Dr. Larkin, that seems to be incorrect, especially if negative feelings are tied to the activity.

    “Every thought and feeling is affirming something that is a building block upon which you are building your predisposition to mood and thought…we have learned to associate and feel almost instantaneously the feelings we so subtly and usually feel, that we don’t even know they are driving our moods, our anxieties, and our ups and downs”.

    The way we are wired makes it so necessary to operate mindfully throughout our day. This all confirms the necessary to be cognizant of and attentive to our feelings, moods – to not add to the years of negativity stored up, creating feelings that we get to without even a thought. To practice positivity and being is Upspiral as much as possible.

    Our exercise of looking at the day and having our ‘gratitude’ moment, may best be placed right before going to sleep. I usually find myself doing other things afterward. The blog post affirms a need to shift my activities to optimize the sleep I am getting. I am seeing the benefit of the nightly routines I have read about to not only aid in actually falling asleep, but to affect the quality of the sleep itself. Fortunately,I now have many tools (certitude, hands prayer, pulsing) I can include here. As I have seen in other areas, I look forward to better overall health with my new sleep awareness and activities!

  • Echo Macdonald

    Considering the fact that we spend about one-third of our lives in sleep, it seems as though the work of the brain during this time would be of critical importance. Clearing out the clutter and reorganizing the “closets” of thought are pretty important housekeeping tasks. Maybe if we respected our internal environment and its need for “cleaning” to the same extent as our external environments (home, car, clothing, food) we’d all be less inclined to stay up late or focus on movies, etc that create more clutter for our brains to clean. Lifting the weight of positivity is work. But since our brains can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, it makes sense to reinforce positive circuitry. Crowding out the negative by replacing it with the positive? That’s worth sleeping on…

  • Eddy Macdonald

    “Every thought and feeling is affirming something that is a building block upon which you are building your predisposition to mood and thought.” This really resonated with me, and will be food for much thought.

    I have noticed marked impact on my sleep with this coursework. My dreams have changed. I dream more often and more vividly. At first, my sleep was more fitful than usual, but now, several months in, it feels deeper than ever. Time spent in the emotional gym as I fall asleep, pulsing positive emotions reaps huge benefits of 5-15 points above my average in mt US and ES the next morning. If I get to bed late of miss sleep, I have to fight harder to stay in the US and ES the next day.

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