You’re tired of tossing and turning. Exhausted from lying awake, thinking about the day’s events or planning those of tomorrow. Worn out with work, family and friends-related concerns.
And yet, with all of this thinking and the mental fatigue that comes with it, your mind has never felt more awake. You’re so, so tired but still, in the words of Faithless, you “can’t get no sleep”. Which brings with it a ton of stress and all the problems that come with it.
Fear not – you’re not alone. We’ve all had nights when bedtime worries have kept us awake until the wee hours, times when it feels like we’re just drifting off only to have sunlight rudely pouring its way between the curtains.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to cut down the pre-bedtime worry fest and fast-track to a snoozefest instead. Listen up…
Power down early
If you’re the kind of person who binge-watches the latest TV show in bed, or needs to update their profile just one more time before turning in for the night, it’s likely that sleep doesn’t come easily. Because our electronic devices and the blue light they emit can wreak havoc with our sleep patterns; they overstimulate the mind and make our brains a hive of activity, rather than winding them down towards sleepy oblivion.
A rested mind is a calmer mind. So, to avoid bedtime worries, shut down those devices at least an hour before you hit the hay. (That means off, not just on silent mode – you’ll be less tempted to check your emails at midnight that way!) If you rely on your phone to wake you up, well, it’s time to go oldschool and get an alarm clock.
Take time out to relax
You’re on the go all day. And if you continue at this pace until the moment your head hits the pillow, chances are that you’ll find it hard to settle down. After all, the mind doesn’t come with an “off” switch; it’s more like a dimmer that needs to be gradually turned down.
By getting into a nice and relaxing evening routine, you can set this dimmer switch in motion. Once you’ve turned off your devices at a reasonable hour, enjoy some mindful “you” time. For instance, light some candles, burn some essential oils and have a long soak in the tub. Check out some yin yoga classes on YouTube. Try a guided meditation exercise to aid relaxation. Give your partner those bedroom eyes. Whatever it takes to relax…just make sure you don’t try to go straight from office mode to family mode to sleep mode – it simply won’t work.
Make a list
You’ve followed the steps above to slow down before bedtime. Your body feels rested, your mind feels relaxed and you’re ready for sleep to arrive.
And yet…you’re left waiting for far too long.
Soon enough, the mind goes back into overdrive. Why can’t I sleep? Did I pay that utility bill? What will I make for lunch tomorrow? Why can’t I sleep?!
A vicious circle of sleep-blocking thoughts take over.
In times like these, acknowledgement is often better than prevention. To stop these thoughts from playing over and over in the mind, try this: make a list. When you first turn out the light, think of three concerns you currently have. Don’t follow the thoughts by trying to come up with solutions; simply be aware that they are there and that you will deal with them when you need to.
Next, think of three things that happened during the day for which you’re grateful. They could be big things, like getting a new job, or little things, like a stranger opening a door for you with a smile. This exercise reminds you of the good things from your day, rather than the things that might cause you worry, and leaves you with a positive feeling as you drift off.
Do your research
If you’re still suffering from sleepless nights, there are plenty of resources out there that can help. For instance, the folks at The Sleep Advisor offer great tips to combat sleep deprivation, and advice on dealing with the anxiety that can come with it.
Other than that, make sure to get plenty of fresh air during the day, avoid caffeinated/sugary food and drink before bedtime and get your relaxing bedtime routine on. With time you’ll find that bedtime worries will be a thing of the past, with sweeter dreams fixed in your present.
May you have a sounder sleep tonight, and every night! xoxo