Updated: Oct 14, 2018
One of the worst things we can do is stress about going to sleep, To sleep the body needs to feel safe and relaxed so stressing about not getting enough sleep or being able to sleep has the reverse effect that we are after.
When having problems getting to sleep our perceptions of how much sleep we have had can be very different from the amount that we actually get.
We may feel that we have been awake for a lot longer than we actually have and not realise that we have had more sleep than it actually feels and the more that we panic the easier it is for us to distort this perception of time. The more we think about this and worry the easier it becomes to make our fears a reality and we start a cycle of building anxiety around getting enough sleep which then continues effecting our sleep.
This can easily mean that we start to dread the thought of going to bed and going to sleep and dwell on that time of lying awake and hoping that tonight will be in some way different.
It is important to put things into perspective, 50% of people feel that they do not get enough sleep and it is thought that a third of the population have bouts of Insomnia, so in no way are you alone and this problem is very common.
Some useful ideas to help promote sleep are:
· Consider changing your bedroom around to make it more sleep friendly. Perhaps change your mattress, Bedroom lighting, de-clutter, remove TV’s, unnecessary furniture. Create the peaceful place that it should be.
· Avoid stimulants around two hours before bedtime, Things like drinking Coffee, Smoking, Hot baths, eating meals. Many of us watch TV before bedtime but this actually simulates our brain. Try reading instead, listening to soft music or a walk.
· Avoid daytime napping; wherever possible avoid falling asleep outside of usual bedtime hours. If you must nap limit it to 30 minutes and early afternoon. But try to keep sleep for bedtime and the bedroom only.
· Ditch the phone! Many of us have now got into the habit of having one last look at our mobile phone before trying to sleep. This last look undoes any of the work we have done to try to relax, we take in new items of news that stimulates the brain, New problems from family, friends and even complete strangers on social media, often things that we can’t change or do anything about but which will now effect the chances of us going to sleep more easily.
· Don’t battle with Sleep, Overall our bodies are programmed to look after themselves and to survive, meaning that our bodies will always try naturally to gain as much sleep as they need. This may not match our expectations and that is one reason we can start to worry when we have found it difficult to sleep. Try to relax in the knowledge that you are getting enough to survive, you are safe and that there is no need to fight yourself.
· Exercise, having less sleep than we would like makes us feel tired however a good way to help promote sleep is to exercise. Walking , swimming , cycling are great examples of gentle exercise that burns off anxious energy , helps us to relax and helps to clear our minds.
· Unload your worries; it is always difficult to sleep if we have unresolved concerns and worries. This is often one of the main reasons we struggle to sleep. Just having a solution or plan in mind can help; Try to make the time to unload your worries a couple of hours before going to bed. Perhaps start by making a list of concerns and when completed work through how you are going to start resolving each one. Remember some concerns are out of our control, we cannot change everything so let those concerns go and concentrate on the things that you can change.
· Break the silence, Laying awake waiting to fall asleep can be extremely frustrating and can help maintain the worrying staying awake cycle, If you are not asleep after around half an hour try breaking this cycle by getting back up, leaving the bedroom and completing another small task such as reading a few pages of a book. When feeling sleepy return back to bed to sleep and repeat if necessary #sleep #lifestyle