Pride Month is a joyful occasion, one that recognizes the perseverance and strength of the LGBTQ+ community both past and present. In this month of celebration and resilience, it’s important to honor the need for rest and comfort, especially as a marginalized person.
Research on LGBTQ+ sleep health is a budding field, but studies have shown that LGBTQ+ people have poorer sleep health than cisgender, heterosexual people on average. The reason for this, according to Charlotte J. Patterson, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at University of Virginia and a leading researcher on LGBTQ+ sleep health, is relatively simple: “Stress is bad for sleep, and LGBTQ people tend to experience lots of stress relative to peers who are heterosexual.”
One stress-reduction technique that can be applied to improve sleep health is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been found to be highly effective in helping combat chronic insomnia. This wide-ranging modality includes the usage of relaxation techniques and meditation, including sleep affirmations, or simple statements that signal to yourself that it’s time to rest.
While general sleep affirmations can be helpful (read more about them here), experts recommend tailoring affirmations to your experiences. The unique stresses that LGBTQ+ people experience call for customized affirmations, which you can continue tailoring to your specific needs.
If you’re in need of inspiration for sleep affirmations of your own, read on for vetted, expert-approved declarations that help them calm their minds and validate self-love.
1. “You are safe. You are loved. You are cared for.”
Emily Stone, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of the Unstuck Group, says that this is an affirmation that she’s found useful for herself, as a lesbian who has “struggled significantly with sleep” throughout her life.
She recommends putting your hand on your heart and repeating this affirmation to yourself. “Touch, even our own, is powerfully settling,” Stone adds.
2. “I only choose to focus on what I can control, and let go of what I cannot. I let go of negativity and I invite deep, restful sleep.”
This affirmation is a favorite of Katherine Hall’s, a sleep coach with the insomnia CBT program Somnus Therapy. While letting go of negativity seems easier said than done, Hall recommends scheduling a “worrying time” to engage with racing thoughts, rather than leaving them for right before bed.
“You should set aside 15 to 20 minutes in the early evening, sitting down somewhere where you’re not going to be disturbed,” Hall says. “Thoughts that interfere at bedtime will be a lot easier to dismiss if they have already been dealt with, at a time when you’re much more awake!”
3. “I deserve love, I deserve peace, I deserve rest.”
“Minority stress is absorbed through an array of messages in society at large, and in personal relationships up close,” Stone says. Some of those messages may include the notion that LGBTQ+ people are unworthy of living full, healthy lives, which can induce the kind of chronic minority stress Stone describes.
Additionally, Hall says that the “sharpened senses and high alert state” of “fight-or-flight mode” as a response to chronic stress can also lead to greater sleep disturbances in response to external stimuli; that’s why stress reduction for LGBTQ+ people proves so important.
Use this affirmation to counter those external messages and reclaim your time and energy.
4. “I love and accept who I am, even when it makes others uncomfortable. I believe in myself.”
Intentionally or not, this affirmation recommended by Hall echoes the wise words of pansexual icon Janelle Monáe in her song “Q.U.E.E.N.” While the song itself might get you hyped up, which is probably the opposite of what you want right before bed, the sentiment can still be used to welcome rest and encourage self-love.
5. “I am capable of caring for myself.”
When Patterson dug deeper into the reasons for LGBTQ+ sleep health disparities, she found that “these problems were linked to sexual minority people’s reports of having experienced greater stress, which was itself linked with problems in their relationships with parents.”
This affirmation offers the idea of a pre-bed ritual of sleep hygiene that functions as “reparenting,” as Stone put it, which could resonate with LGBTQ+ people.
“Part of being an adult is being our own parent, our own caregiver,” Stone says. “The things a good parent would do? It is our job to give those things to ourselves. A child benefits from a routine that helps them settle their bodies, release the day, and transition into sleep. We do, too!”
6. “My resilience is a superpower, and it’s okay to turn it off.”
Stone says that “ongoing hypervigilance, hypersensitivity, and hyperawareness” are often exhibited by LGBTQ+ community members “as a way to survive emotionally, relationally, and professionally.” While this is a testament to the strength of LGBTQ+ people, Stone likens chronic minority stress to a “constant hum in the background that affects the ability to relax and our brain's activity.”
“This state of always being ‘on’ or ‘activated’ leaves a person vulnerable to not being able to turn ‘off’ at night,” says Stone. This affirmation both honors your body’s mechanisms of protection, while also signaling that it’s safe to let your guard down.
7. “Making time to rest is an act of radical self-care.”
Resistance is a core aspect of LGBTQ+ history, especially for multiply marginalized people, and as Lorde so eloquently explained, rest and care are integral to that resistance. Especially the kind of care that incorporates the self, which can look different for each person.
The concept of self-care can be traced back to the work of Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde, who first wrote about self-care in her book A Burst of Light.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence,” Lorde wrote, “it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Allow Yourself to Rest
Pride month is a time for celebration, so do your thing, whatever that looks like — dancing the night away, taking to the streets, or simply curling up with a comforting queer book. No matter what your joy looks like, one way we can all reconnect with the reason for the season is caring for ourselves and allowing ourselves to rest and recuperate.
Want to turn your sleep affirmations into a full bedtime routine? We recommend incorporating a hot relaxing bath to literally soak the day away. And if you need more inspiration, you might even want to read about the powers of sleep hypnosis and consider finding LGBTQ+-affirming audio tracks for your nighttime routine.
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