When sleep feels elusive, what can you do?
- Have an unwind time 1 hour before you want to go to sleep, such as a warm bath, herbal drink, read a book. Develop a bedtime ritual.
- Consider a short evening walk.
- Have a regular go to bed time and get up time – every day, even at weekends! Your body will then come to know when its time to go to sleep and time to be awake. You will maximise your sleep potential at night. Ideal times to tie in with our circadian rhythms 10pm -6am.
- Don’t have a heavy meal late in the evening. Avoid caffeine after 1pm.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. It negatively affects the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid all screens an hour before bed.
- Make sure your room is cool enough, your body needs a temperature drop to drop off!
- Make sure your bed is comfortable and your spine and neck supported. Use a good mattress and pillow. Room dark.
- Try not to go to bed stressed. Write down your worries in a journal so you can ‘leave them there while you sleep’. Use a breathing exercise, relaxation, sleep music or sleep app or carry out a calming meditation before climbing into bed.
If your mind won’t stop buzzing and you can’t drop off or you wake in the night.
- Accept that your mind is over active. Don’t fight it.
- Aim to ‘watch’ your thoughts. Let them come and go. Notice them and let them pass. The more you fight to stop them or shut them down the more they will persist.
- Don’t worry about ‘trying’ to get to sleep. Sleep doesn’t come if you try. ‘Allow’ sleep to happen.
- Relax your body. Take your attention to your toes and scan through your body to the top of your head.
- Listen to sleep music or natural sounds, the waves of the ocean are particularly soporific. Some people find visualising a peaceful safe place helps.
- Follow your breath, you don’t need to change it, just watch it. As soon as you become aware of intrusive thoughts bring your attention back to your breathing or to your peaceful place. Allow your breath to come and go slowly into your belly.
- If you still can’t sleep after 20/30 minutes, get up and have a warm drink, or read a slow novel. Keep the lights low. After 20 minutes return to bed and let yourself rest without trying to get to sleep. Breathing calmly into your belly. Repeat the above.
- If you don’t get to sleep try not to worry about it. Accept things as they are for now. Anxiety about sleeping makes it more elusive.
During the day
Most people don’t realise that their daytime routine can help or hinder a good night’s sleep. If you have fatigue issues it is more important to not push though your energy limits during the day. Becoming overtired means it will be harder to sleep.
- Stick to your usual get up time but aim to take short rest breaks through the day,10-15 minutes every 1-2 hours, will help you get through the day without getting too exhausted.
- Aim to take a siesta or nap in the early afternoon of up to 60 minutes. This will help your night time sleep.
- Check out your activity level in the day time. If you are rushing about striving to get lots done then this will affect your sleep at night as your stress response will keep you looking out for danger and ‘on edge’.
- Rest your body and mind regularly daily.
- Aim to get outside in the morning for 30 minutes or so. This helps night time sleep.
- Eat regular healthy meals. Sugar, fats, processed foods, stimulants do not help good quality sleep.
- Prioritise your sleep. Make time for it. Rest is essential for your health and wellbeing.
Most importantly, enjoy your sleep!
Alison. Replenish OT.