Lying awake in our beds during the middle of the night trying to force ourselves back to sleep is something we’ve all experienced. It is not a fun situation to be in and can become very stressful. Not only does waking up during the night have a negative affect the quality of our sleep, but it can have an impact on the following day as well. Luckily, there are some techniques and activities you can use to help ease yourself back to sleep after waking up!
1. Postpone brainstorming. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea or thought that you feel the need to analyze? Save it for the following day. If you wake up feeling anxious about a project or work, write it down on a piece of paper or in a journal instead of staying up worrying about it. Remind yourself that thinking about a problem or an idea will be more effective when it’s handled in the morning and push it out of your head!
2. Don’t psyche yourself out. Trying to force yourself to fall back asleep after having woken up is not the answer. Putting pressure on your body and mind will only make matters worse, as it can trigger stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety will encourage your body to remain awake. Instead, try remaining in bed in a relaxed position, focusing on feelings and sensations in your body.
3. Use relaxation techniques. In order to fall back asleep, your body and mind must be at ease. Different relaxation techniques can help speed this process along. Try visualization or deep-breathing for starters. If those don’t work, progressive muscle relaxation might do the trick. Read our previous blog to find out more information on the different relaxation techniques.
4. Do a non-stimulating activity. Sometimes the best thing to do when you can’t sleep is to get out of bed! If you have been awake for at least 15 minutes, it’s time to get up and do some sort of activity. Make sure that you keep your environment quiet and dimly lit. Stay away from any screens, such as computers, TVs, and cell phones, as they will stimulate the brain. Reading a book, having a light snack, or writing are all suggested activities to help you fall asleep.
5. Don’t look at the time. Waking up in the night is stressful enough, so you don’t need to look at the clock to see what time it is. Looking at your alarm clock or cell phone in the middle of the night will trigger stress and anxiety. You may begin to worry about the little amount of time that you have left before you have to wake up for the day, making it even more difficult to fall back asleep. You might keep checking the clock to see how much time has passed since you’ve been up. In order to avoid stress, do not look at the time!
If you have any techniques that you use to fall back asleep, please feel free to share them with us in the comments below!