How to Tune into Your Body’s Distress Signals and Finally Get Some Sleep


Your body is sending you messages on a daily basis. Whether or not you choose to tune into them is up to you. Listening to your body is more than admitting you feel “off” or unlike your usual self. Interestingly enough, listening to your body requires interaction and response.

If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, it may be time to pay close attention. Your body is most likely sending you distress signals. However, tuning into these signals can be slightly confusing.

What exactly is a distress signal?

How can you tell what it means?

Understanding how your body communicates is vital to developing a positive self-care routine. Here are a few tips on how to tune into your body’s distress signals and finally get some sleep.

Understanding Your Body’s Distress Signals

First off, your body’s distress signals are physical manifestations of a mental or emotional issue.

For instance, during a conflict with your spouse, you may experience an upset stomach. The adrenalin rush of your “fight or flight” response system triggers this sick feeling. It’s basically your body’s way of alerting you that something is out of balance. Typically, once you and your spouse reach a resolution, the sick feeling disappears.

It’s evident that both mental and emotional issues can cause intense physical reactions. Less significant reactions can easily get ignored, though. While it’s easier to pop a painkiller than to execute mindfulness, this will only mask the true problem.

Also, today’s society encourages “toughing it out.” Unfortunately, this strategy often invites stress to stealthily enter your life. Unknowingly, you “tough it out” to the point where your stress level is taking a toll on your body.

When this happens, your body often begins to exhibit abnormal symptoms. These symptoms are your body’s distress signals.

How to Tune In

Noticing an upset stomach during conflict is fairly obvious. What about weekend headaches, unusually itchy skin, or even an achy mouth? You can often trace these physical signs back to a deeper underlying problem. Regrettably, sleepless nights usually follow days that are filled with stress signals.

How do you tune into these signals to know what they mean?

One very effective way to understanding your body’s distress signals is simply to be mindful.  Begin by bringing attention to the sensations. Use an attitude of curiosity, and avoid judging yourself. By befriending your distress symptoms, rather than ignoring or rejecting them, you can begin to learn more about what your body needs to regain the balance it needs.

Make it a point to notice how you feel rather than going through the motions. Take inventory of the times you experience discomfort in your body for no apparent physical reason.

Purposefully gauge circumstances according to how you feel physically. If the daily morning staff meeting leaves you with a headache, take note. There is a reason for this discomfort. Sadly, these issues often plague your night, stealing valuable rest from you.

Most of all,  keep in mind that your body does best with regularity. Go to bed and wake up at the same time of day, regardless of weekends. Use your bed for sleeping or intimacy only. Watch TV in another room. Limit your exposure to screen time, especially your phone, for an hour before bedtime to avoid activating your pineal gland with the “blue” light. Eat and exercise regularly to promote balance. Avoid alcohol right before bed. Although it may help you fall asleep, it can promote wakefulness a few hours later.

Decoding Your Body’s Stress Signals

The point in decoding anything is to unveil a hidden message. In fact, your body could be waving red flags your direction. Without knowing what the red flag represents, it’s useless.

This is where your mindfulness efforts will pay off.

Once you’ve taken stock of how your outward situations make you feel physically, you can then move on to the next step. This step is connecting the dots from physical discomfort to a mental or emotional issue.

For instance, perhaps you have headaches after your morning staff meeting. You realize that they are consistent, no matter what physical changes you make. After digging a little deeper, you might admit to feeling inferior to the other staff. Perhaps you address this problem by validating your position. And, shortly after, the pesky headaches stop. Not only does it offer a reprieve in your day, but tuning in leaves you with a restful night’s sleep.

Your body is talking to you. Its distress signals offer you a lot of information, but you have to listen.

Remember that you are more than just a body. Rather, you are a complete system- mind and body- with interacting dimensions. To heal one dimension, you must tune into them all.