Waking in the dead of night, unable to get back to sleep is more common than you might expect. Causes include age, anxiety and lifestyle. It is also a natural part of the sleep cycle to enter periods of very light sleep every 90 minutes or so. The challenge once we’ve woken is to quickly return to restful sleep. We looked at 5 of the most well-known techniques in Part 1, here are 5 more hacks for getting back to sleep.
- Watch a movie with your eyes closed – We are not suggesting you actually turn on the TV, instead, in your mind’s eye recall a familiar movie, TV drama or novel. Think about nothing else except how the story slowly unfolds, the characters, locations and events. As your mind focuses on the story, allow it to drift toward a dream state, seamlessly leading to sleep.
- Stay awake – The act of shutting our eyes will not induce sleep on its own. We’ve all had those experiences in boring lectures when we are fighting off sleep as our eyelids become ever heavier. If you are laying awake resist the first urges to close your eyes, remain relaxed and ready for sleep but just hold off shutting your eyes, allowing the eyelids to become increasingly relaxed to the point where you finally give in and fall asleep instantly.
- Meditate – mindfulness is well recognised as a powerful mental exercise. Unlike many of the suggestions here, it isn’t something that can be effective first time. To be able to meditate effectively takes a great deal of practice. There are however some excellent audio guides, led by experts, that a novice will find beneficial.
- Build thinking time into your day – many of us lead such hectic lives that it’s only when we get to bed that we have time to think. This combined with the fact that the mind sorts, prioritises and deletes our memories during sleep, can lead to us waking with a clear view of a problem and an urgent sense that we must think it through then and there. In bed at 3 am!
By having a ‘time to think’ set aside during the day, we can rest easy in the knowledge that we can work through the issue during our morning walk, commute or bath. It can be helpful to make a note of thoughts that occur during the night, effectively pausing your thinking until the morning.
- Flex and relax – alongside our racing minds our tense bodies can keep us awake. One technique that can help to relax the body is to flex or tense up a region of the body, hold for a few seconds then fully relax. This should start at our head by screwing up our face and clenching our jaw, then our neck, shoulders, working down through your body to your feet. Each time allowing your whole body to fully relax before moving on to the next region.
Not every technique here will suit everyone, be sure to look at 5 more tips to get back to sleep and if you are still struggling talk to one of our Sleep Coaches.