For many of us, our difficulty with sleep doesn’t occur when we first get into bed, it rears its head in the early hours of the morning.
Perhaps you’ve woken to visit the toilet or because you’ve got too hot or cold. Thirty minutes later you realise you’ve been lying awake, your mind racing through the challenges of the next day, unable to get back to sleep. Very often it’s the frustration we are feeling with not being able to get to sleep which is keeping us awake! Here are 5 techniques you should try that have been found to overcome nighttime wakefulness.
- It’s okay to be awake! A common cause of insomnia is worrying about not sleeping. Whilst sleep is important, worrying we aren’t getting enough sleep will not improve our rest. Quite the opposite. Age, lifestyle, even time of year can cause us to wake in the night, it happens, don’t fret about it. The techniques here should help to overcome your nighttime wakefulness but worrying certainly will not.
- Get on up – an error many of us make is that we try to get tired in bed. It’s widely believed that if you are still lying awake after 15 minutes is best to get up and out of the bedroom. Go to another room and do something enjoyable but not stimulating. Seated activities like reading a book or knitting are good, whereas moving around, watching screens or communicating with others will provide too much stimulation. Enjoy this ‘secret time’ until tiredness returns and you are ready to return to bed. It is crucial not to simply fall asleep in another room, keeping the bedroom for sleep and other rooms for wakeful activity is a key to effective sleep.
- Write a list – As we sleep our minds filter unnecessary data accumulated during the day and bring forward the important thoughts, memories and problems. It’s good practice to spend a few minutes writing these down early in the evening as a way of separating daytime activity from nighttime sleeping. Some thoughts are bound to pop up during the course of the night, in which case jot them down to be acted on in the morning. Enabling your mind to empty, so that you can return to sleep.
- Count backwards – this technique works best if you start immediately you wake before your mind starts racing. Simply start at 100 and count backwards, taking a slow breath between each number. This is one of numerous ‘thought blocking techniques’ another is to repeat the word ‘the’ every two seconds. The idea is to occupy the mind to distract it from stimulating thoughts over a sufficient period that sleep can be allowed to replace wakefulness.
- Take a trip – Recall a familiar walk, imagine you are about to make this journey, notice the views, the climate and the season. Allow yourself to take the trip at walking pace, breathing slow, regular breaths, noticing the ground, the changing surroundings and the path ahead. Enjoy the journey, if your mind wanders gently bring it back to point in the walk where it left and continue your journey.
Give these a try and if you are still struggling to nod off talk to our sleep coach.