Hannah Lynes

How to get back to sleep

Do you wake up in the night and struggle to get back to sleep? I’ve struggled with that for a long time. Lately, I’ve been doing a bit better and am feeling a lot healthier as a result. I know that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others, but I thought I’d share here what’s worked for me in case it’s useful for someone else. Here are the things that are working for me:

  1. Putting my phone in another room. This is a game changer for me. It takes away the temptation to just quickly check social media/read the news/play a game or whatever, so if I’m awake in the night it’s just me with my thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to tell yourself that reading or listening to something will help you get back to sleep, but for me it just displaces all the thoughts and feelings that I actually need to think and feel in the night and I think in the morning I feel less refreshed than if I’ve allowed myself to properly process things.
  2. Watch this video and try the exercise. It really helps me relax and I think it speeds up the process of falling asleep for me.
  3. Use Headspace during the day and then try doing some of the exercises when you’re struggling to sleep at night. They’re meant to be meditation exercises, not sleep exercises, but I find that some of them are really helpful for enabling me to relax and fall back to sleep at night. Anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying some meditation during the day – it might help you to feel more relaxed anyway and that might also help you to sleep better.
  4. Feel your feelings and think your thoughts. It’s OK if you’re awake for a while in the night doing this. I think that during the daytime we set aside lots of things that we might need to think or feel because we’re busy, or because it’s not appropriate to express ourselves at every moment. For example, we might hear something sad on the news, but we don’t cry about it because we’ve learnt not to cry about the news. Or we feel really angry about something but we don’t want to create a scene. Or we’ve got a difficult decision to make but we don’t have time to think about it. During the night time is when you can feel and think all those things. You can cry if you want to, you can feel angry or excited or happy and you can spend time thinking about things. When we’re asleep we process thoughts and feelings in our dreams. If you’re awake, you can still process them just be letting yourself think and feel. So you might start a breathing exercise and then half an hour later you realise you’ve actually been thinking about something instead. That’s OK. That’s what you needed to do. It’s not wasted time. You’ve probably moved on a bit with it, let some of your feelings out, maybe had some ideas about what you can do about it tomorrow. Now you can try another breathing or meditation exercise and you might find you fall asleep. Or maybe not, maybe you’ll start processing something else. It’s OK. I find that if I allow myself to do this then I do at some point fall back to sleep and the next day I feel much more refreshed than if I had gone on my phone or read a book.

So that’s it. That’s what’s working for me. I’d love to hear about what works for you. Do share any ideas or feedback in the comments below.

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