Whilst some people find it hard to get to sleep, the majority of insomniacs find themselves waking in the early hours of the morning and then find it hard to get back off to sleep.
Here are 5 tips that will help you to return to sleep in the wee small hours:
- Don’t fret – the worry that much-needed sleep time has been interrupted can be enough to keep us awake. By recognising that waking during the night is part of the natural sleep cycle should help to relieve the pressure. Our ancestors often woke for extended periods during the night before returning back to sleep. Some regard this ‘biphasic sleep’ pattern as the most restorative style of sleep!
- Write down worries -if we have a lot on our mind we are prone to wake up with thoughts racing through our heads. This probably has something to do with our brain sorting through our memories from the previous day, deleting what we don’t need and filing what we do. Rather than laying awake trying not to forget that insight just write it down. The act of committing the thought to paper allows the mind to slow and relax, leading to sleep.
- Count – when grandma used to tell you to count sheep she had a point. Focusing on a simple act like counting shuts out anxieties while we focus on a mundane task. The key is to not become distracted, one technique can be to count backwards from 100, counting between slow breaths.
- Flex and relax – our physiology can hinder our sleep, especially if we are physically tense. To combat this slowly tense, hold and release muscles throughout your body. Starting by clenching your eyebrows in a frown, holding for 5 seconds and releasing, then move down to scrunch your nose and mouth, hold again for 5 seconds and release, Continue down through your entire body breathing steadily throughout.
- Listen – Another technique to combat the racing mind is to listen to an audiobook or podcast. This has the added benefit of focusing our hearing, thereby shutting out distracting sounds. If the noise is an issue where you sleep a fan or white noise app can block out noisy neighbours.
Practicing techniques like these will very often make a difference. To explore other ways to improve sleep quality talk to a Sleep Coach about your own particular circumstances.