Why can’t I just go to sleep? How many times have you heard that from friends or family, or maybe it’s something you’ve thought yourself….
Well let’s start off with the easy stuff
-Are you in a noisy place?
-Is there too much light in the room?
-Is your bed uncomfortable?
-Are you playing or working with a screen in the the two hours prior to sleep?
-Are you in pain?
-Are you drinking coffee or other high caffeine products within four hours of going to bed?
-Are you trying to sleep out of your regular schedule (shift working etc)?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then change it. If the answer is no to all of them, then there are a few techniques you might want to try…..
1.Stop worrying about it – it is horrible watching the clock when your are trying to sleep and thinking ‘If I don’t go to sleep NOW then I’ll only have 5 hours sleep…If I don’t go to sleep NOW then I’ll only have 4 1/2 hours sleep….’ Next time think, ‘I’ll get 5 hours sleep and THAT’S OK…I’ve managed on that before and I will again’.
2. If your mind is going 90 miles an hour thinking of different things you need to do, write them down. Often when we make a list, we can stop worrying that we are going to forget something and we can relax.
3. If you are worrying about something, say to yourself ‘I can’t do anything about that now, I’ll deal with it in the morning’.
4. Try counting…but maybe not sheep. Focus on your breathing…breath in to the count of 7 and out to the count of 11. By concentrating on your breathing you slow your mind down and by making sure your out breath is a little longer than your in breath you create changes in your bodies chemistry which cause it to relax.
5. Another counting technique involves counting backwards from 500 in 3’s e.g. 500, 497, 494, 491, 488… It can be useful if your mind is quite frantic and your thoughts keep wandering.
6. Work on relaxing each of your muscles in turn. Start at the top of your head and work your way slowly down your body, imagining all of the muscles turning loose and limp. See them smoothing out in your minds eye as you make it happen in your body.
7. Imagine yourself as a cloud in the sky, or a leaf in a stream. See yourself gently moving along, thinking of the sights you would see, how it would feel, what you would smell, what you would hear….
8. You know that feeling you get when the alarm goes off in the morning and you feel like you would give anything for just another half an hour in bed…..really remember it. Think about how it feels, how you feel, what you like about it….
9. If it’s safe for you (i.e. if you do not have any serious mental health issues, if you do not have any breathing difficulties, if you are not epileptic and are over 18 years old) why not try listening to a guided sleep track. p.s. only listen to something like this if you are sure that it is safe for you and those around you to do so.
Whatever technique or techniques work for you, just relax, lie back and enjoy your trip to sleepy town….and if you really can’t sleep, maybe you can just enjoy the rest.