There is nothing so frustrating as settling down to sleep after a long busy day, knowing I have an early start the next day, and not being able to fall asleep. I replay random events from the day that are still stressing me out, and then I imagine all the stressful things waiting for me tomorrow. Who keeps pushing that replay button?
I try to sleep, knowing that tomorrow will be even worse because I’m not getting the rest I need, which brings more stress. It’s a vicious cycle. And maybe I fall asleep after practicing some easy relaxation methods, then wake up because something gets triggered in my brain. Sound familiar?
Research says we need 7-9 hours of quality sleep to function well. But wait, I know that’s the amount I need to be fully functional based on years of noticing what works best for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. I know people who live creative, productive lives on 6 hours and others who need a minimum of 9. It’s essential to know your requirements for sleep, so you don’t get stressed about not getting the “recommended” amount.
When we’re stressed, our bodies naturally produce hormones including cortisol and adrenaline so that we are ready to fight or run from perceived threats to our health and safety. That’s very helpful when we need to run from real danger. But when it’s just a story in our mind about our busy day, either in the past or the future, we’re not allowing ourselves to rest in the safe, comfortable present moment. We can choose to bring our attention to this moment, and this one, and this one, and to let our mind and body know that it’s safe to sleep now.
There are many proven ways to invite sleep. Over time, I’ve learned several methods that work great for me. I still have a few sleep-challenged nights, but thankfully they are few and far between now.
What can you do if you are sleep-challenged? The first thing is to set aside the time for sleeping. Due to busy schedules, many of us tend to be the ones who suffer because we usually put ourselves last. If you know what time you need to get up, work backward and decide that you’ll go to bed early enough to give yourself the number of hours of sleep that you need to function at your best. Sometimes that’s not possible, but you owe it to yourself to at least try, right? Make it a well-deserved gift to yourself.
Charge your devices in a different room from where you sleep. I know you’ve seen all the articles saying never to look at your devices in bed, and there are lots of good reasons for that. I’ve noticed that even when I charge my phone on the nightstand, my brain is still on alert for the sounds, even when I’ve silenced them. It’s a wired habit to listen for notifications from devices, and if they’re near us, we’re on subconscious alert. I’ve been sleeping much better since I started charging them in a different room.
It’s also helpful to have a before-bedtime ritual. Create one that works for you. When you get into the habit of doing the same things before sleep, the moment you start doing them, it signals your brain to wind down and prepare for sleep. So think about what relaxing rituals you can create. Maybe a warm shower or bath, or a few minutes in a comfortable Yoga posture, or treating yourself by listening to this guided relaxation audio.
Once you’re in bed, there are many easy breathing exercises you can try. It can be as simple as practicing awareness of your breathing patterns, noticing your inhalations and exhalations.
And last but certainly not least, there is an easy stealth technique for EFT Tapping. Instead of tapping, simply holding and gently squeezing points on our fingers sends a calming signal to the brain that all is well so we can fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
I hope you choose at least one method to rewire your brain and break the sleepless night cycle. It IS possible. You’ve got this!
Please remember: It's important to contact a professional if things feel too big for you, whether it be a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or certified EFT practitioner. Never discontinue your current medications without first consulting your doctor.