I just can’t switch off when I go to bed, my mind just goes on over-drive.
I’m always waking up in the night, and then I lie awake for hours at a time.
I’m worried I’m not getting enough sleep and that it’s affecting my health.
Sound all too familiar? Struggling to sleep is miserable isn’t it.
But you don’t have to just put up with it, there are some things you can do to help your sleep.
Here are a few ideas to consider.
It may sound rather boring but having regular and healthy bedtime habits are so important for a good night’s sleep. Some of these are positive actions, for example:
Have a regular time for going to bed and getting up, and sticking to these. This helps your body get into a routine and create a pattern for your sleep.
Take regular exercise, something you enjoy whether this is walking, swimming, a team sport or joining a gym or exercise class. Exercise is good for your health, well-being, mood and it can also help the quality of your sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and cosy, a place where you feel you can relax and rest. Changing the colours or furnishings, lighting, temperature, mood or layout, having a declutter are all ways to improve your sleeping environment so it’s restful and soothing.
Do something relaxing before you go to bed. Make sure you stop working several hours before your bedtime to allow your mind some down time. Listening to soothing music, having a warm bath, reading an enjoyable book, doing meditation, breathing techniques or self-hypnosis can all aid the relaxation process. During self-hypnosis you can give yourself positive messages when you go to bed to aid sleep such as “My body is relaxed, my mind is restful” or “I am calm, I am comfortable” or “there’s nothing to do…nothing to think about…so I can relax and sleep well”, or whatever is a positive suggestion for you.
Empty your brain before you go to bed by asking yourself these questions: What am I grateful for today? What have I learnt today? What have I done today? What have I to do tomorrow? What I have put in place today to deal with tomorrow?
As well as getting into using these positive practices on a consistent basis, avoid the following which can upset your sleep – eating late, stimulating drinks such as coffee, tea, caffeinated drinks such as cola and alcohol, and use of iphones and ipads late into the evening as the blue light transmitted from modern day electronic devises can suppress the hormone, melatonin which is sleep inducing, and trick your brain into thinking its daytime.
I hope taking these steps or changing just one aspect of your bedtime routine makes a difference to you and improves your sleep.
But if your sleep difficulties have been going on for a long time and it’s become impossible to shake off, it’s is probably affecting your wellbeing, energy levels and performance or straining relationships.
Not sleeping well can seem to create a lot of anxious thinking. You may be dreading going to bed and that endless tossing and turning at night due to spiraling worry and fears. When anxious thoughts are racing around in your mind it feels overly active and like you just can’t switch it off, leading to even more anxiety.
Or long term sleep deprivation can be a result of struggling with anxiety: anxiety and insomnia often go hand in hand.
I specialise in working with anxiety, and sleep is often an aspect of what we work on during sessions, either indirectly improving sleep by reducing anxiety or by helping you through a mix of coaching and hypnosis to learn to unwind and relax, and change your relationship with the anxious thoughts reving up mind.
This in turns leads to different behaviours and habits around sleep and reduces the stress around trying to get to sleep.