We’ve all been there, waking up in the middle of the night for an unknown reason and before you know it, your mind is racing. Processing the previous day, worrying about the impending one and then, without warning, you are wide awake. Seconds turn into minutes and then a number of hours can quickly pass.
Although we all can experience this occasionally, for some, it can become a regular battle in which they also have to deal with the consequences of inadequate sleep the following day. Here are our top tips to get back to sleep:
Tips to help you to get back to sleep
1. Note down the thoughts and worries that are keeping you awake
A lot of the time the thoughts keeping us awake are jobs that we need to remember to do the following day. By writing these down you are eliminating the chance of them being forgotten meaning you can stop thinking about them. Similarly unloading all the jobs and worries down onto a piece of paper can help to create a psychological ‘offloading’, with them being on paper they no longer need to be in your thoughts. These can then be addressed in the morning with a clear head when action can be taken.
2. Listen to an relaxing audio book or guided meditation
By giving yourself something to focus on, you can be distracted from your own intruding thoughts. Guided meditations are good because they give you a clear direction for your thoughts and encourage relaxation by focusing on your own breathing. For audio books it is best to avoid any intense storylines that are likely to get you really engaged as this could end up keeping you awake.
3. Relaxation exercises
When you are feeling really restless practising relaxation exercises can be a great way to help you fall back to sleep. Work your way through all of your muscle groups from your toes gently tensing and relaxing each muscle group 5 times. Start by tensing and relaxing your toes, then your calves, then your thighs and so on until you have reached your fingertips. This can help mind to muscle connection allow you to fully relax each of the key muscles in your body.
Everyone has heard of counting sheep as a method to getting back to sleep but you can also try counting back from 100. Make sure to give time for a deep breath in between each number, this repetitive mindless task should help to evoke a sense of sleepiness and help you to drift off.
5. Leave the bedroom
If you have been trying to get back to sleep for a long period of time, try getting up and leaving your bedroom. Although this might seem counterproductive, leaving your bedroom will help to stop feelings of frustration at not being able to sleep. Go and do a monotonous task like folding laundry, try this until you start to feel sleepy and then return to bed.
Much of the time, worrying about not getting back to sleep and the frustration that often follows is a key reason you are awake. Try to remember that it is not a disaster if you do not get a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It is now known that humans sleep in cycles of 90 minutes so as long as you are getting a minimum of 4 sleep cycles in a 24 hour period your body and brain should be getting sufficient rest.
In fact much of the world sleeps in two halves, firstly at night and then as a siesta. Historians believe that prior to the electric light biphasic, broken sleep was commonplace, particularly during the long winter nights. Folks would go to bed soon after it got dark; wake for a few hours after midnight, then go back to sleep before dawn.
It is not uncommon for people to experience trouble sleeping at different times during their life, especially during stressful periods yet some can even experience it on holiday and at less stressful times. Use these tips to try to get back to sleep, however if you are experiencing trouble with sleeping regularly it is best to discuss your situation with a doctor.