Many of us, at one time or another in our lives have battles with insomnia. Maybe its only one night, maybe its a few nights, and for some its all the time. The root cause of insomnia is not clearly defined and can depend on many factors in your life, so what do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
The best way to find out the reason why you can’t sleep is to keep a journal. In your journal document what you did that day, what you ate, perhaps what you watched and or read and any impactful moments of the day. Continue to keep the journal for a few days or weeks, or as long as your insomnia continues and keep track of what changes and what hasn’t changed.
Here are some tips to help you combat those sleepless nights:
- Caffeine – Be aware of how much caffeine you are intaking throughout the course of the day. While our bodies are able to quickly absorb caffeine, having caffeine later in the day can impact our ability to sleep. Individual sensitivities vary but this could be a cause of your insomnia.
- Schedule – Try to keep a consistent bed time, not having a consistent bed time throughout the week and even on the weekends can impact our sleep for the rest of the week.
- Ask Yourself?
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed or feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your sleep environment quiet and comfortable?
- Are you spending enough time in sunlight during the day and in darkness at night?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
- Take More time for Self Care – Relax, turn off the tv and the electronics, read a book. Go to a yoga class or book a massage. Taking time to slow down and breathe and be without out all the stresses of everyday life, especially practicing these things before going to bed can make for a better nights rest.
- Seek Help – Sleeping pills are not your only option, there are many naturopathic tools as well as acupuncture and even other wellness modalities that may help you to find a resolution to your insomnia. If your not sure, and you can’t figure out what may be causing it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need a good nights sleep!
So all of this is a great way to work towards correcting the problem, but what do you do in the meantime? It’s 3:00am, you are wide awake and have an important meeting at 8am, how do you get back to sleep?
- Count Sheep – No really, it does work. Maybe you can’t actually tolerate counting sheep but it does work. If sheep aren’t for you, just count. When we count, we distract our brains from “thinking” and all of the chatter of the day. Lucky for us, our brain cannot count and think at the same time.
- Breath Awareness – Becoming aware of our breath is not only great when we can’t sleep but when we can tap into that power it helps us through all other areas of our life, especially ones that may be challenging or stressful. Start by closing your eyes and just notice your breath, notice the way your breath moves in and out or out and in. And then notice the start of your inhale, the moment the air hits your nose and follow it as it moves down through the back of your throat, into your lungs and even into your belly. Then watch the breath leave, through the lungs and the throat and back out the nose. You can even begin to lengthen your breath, inhaling to a 4 or 6 count and exhaling to the same.
- Legs Up the Wall – Sending your legs up the wall is a great way to stimulate the Parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest mechanism of the body. Utilize Legs up the wall with breath awareness and or counting sheep and you will quickly find you are starting to feel sleepy. Stay as long as you need, 20-30 minutes even.
- Get Up – So you have tried all of the above, now its 5:00am and you are still wide awake. You don’t have to technically get up until 7am, so you would really like to go back to sleep. Instead just get up. Have a shower and start your day. Often when we dose in and out we become more tired than we would be if we just got up.
What have you done to find some rest in the wee hours of the morning?