Being unable to sleep is a common problem many of us suffer from. Tossing and turning while the clock ticks, we can get increasingly anxious as the night goes on. Lying awake knowing we have to be up in a few hours adds to the stress we feel, adding to our sleepless night. For most of us, this is a rare occurrence, and provided we take the right steps, such as avoiding caffeine and going to bed at a decent time, the issue can be alleviated. However, there are also those people who suffer from insomnia, where the inability to sleep is a habitual problem. This is often due to psychological issues, such as stress and depression, or medical conditions, including asthma and chronic pain. The struggle to sleep may also be because of an overactive imagination or having a partner lying next to us who snores constantly.
If you have tried the common solutions to sleeplessness, such as cutting back on your late night coffee and counting sheep to control your restless mind, but are still lying awake at night, then we have some tips for you. We have scoured the internet for advice, and have come up with a list of ideas to combat sleeplessness that you may never have heard about. Have a look, and hopefully, you will find something on this list that can help you.
Use yoga techniques
Yoga is a common way to aid relaxation, and it can be used to calm the entire body when having difficulty sleeping. So, use these breathing methods as part of your night time ritual. They can be used just before going to bed, or when you are lying down, and are an effective way to help you drift off into slumberland.
Try the sleep paradox
No matter how much you try and will yourself into sleep, you can still have no success. The ‘sleep paradox’ is a method recommended in psychotherapy. The idea is to do the opposite of trying to sleep. Have a look at this video by Professor Richard Wiseman. He will give you some advice that you may find counterintuitive but is actually quite helpful. Trying to stay awake can be mentally tiring, so willing yourself not to sleep can help you tire quicker. Give it a go when all your meditative efforts fall flat.
Buy new bed sheets
You would think that all bed sheets have the same purpose. Surely, they are all manufactured to enable us to get a good night’s sleep. Well yes, they are, but some are better than others. For example, the temperature is an important factor when choosing bed sheets. Fabric experts say cotton flannel bedding is best in cold weather, as they offer extra softness and warmth, while cool satin sheets are a great option in the summer. Some people are allergic to certain materials, such as polyester, which can cause skin irritations, so they should buy something hypoallergenic. In theory, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet. Therefore, you may choose to go for 1000 thread count sheets for a better feeling of luxury than something with a lower count. Of course, you should also wash your bed sheets regularly for greater comfort, and to reduce the problem of dust mites and other dirt that builds up as you sleep.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can train people to use techniques to address the mental (cognitive) factors that are associated with sleep problems, such as anxiety and overthinking. Sleep therapy courses usually take between 6-8 weeks with a trained therapist and have been scientifically proven to be effective. There is no stigma in seeing a therapist, and you won’t be expected to delve into your past as in psychotherapy. CBT is a practical approach in dealing with a range of issues, and you will learn to manage your anxious thoughts and behaviors that could affect your disrupted sleep patterns.
Go to your happy place
Sleeplessness is often caused by the anxieties over what has happened the day before, or what may happen in the day to come. Reliving past events that are negative, or imagining what is to come in the future, will not help our sleep patterns, and will increase stress and anxiety. Instead, try to visualize something more positive. For example, relive the good things about the day, and the happy thoughts will help your body to relax. In the same way, think about the good things that may happen in the day ahead, rather than dwelling on potential problems. When your body is tense through stress, you won’t sleep. Get yourself into a happy place with your thoughts, and you will drift into sleep when your mood is calmer.
Use a sleep gadget
There is a range of gadgets on the market that can help you get to sleep. Some of them are listed here, and they include a sleep monitor that will play comforting sounds and a smart pillow that will cool your head to help you fall to sleep faster. Continue your search online, and you will find many more gadgets that can give you the restful night’s sleep you are looking for. There are beds to help deal with a snoring partner, tilting their head upward to clear their blocked airways, and bedside devices that will emit pleasant smells to provoke a deeper night’s sleep.
Cherries aren’t the only food that can aid sleep, but nutritionists recommend cherries because they contain melatonin. This is the hormone that can regulate our sleep cycles, and improve the quality of our sleep. Eating cherries (or drinking cherry juice) before bed, will secrete melatonin into our brains, and boost our sleep pattern. Don’t like cherries? Well, bananas, oats, and tomatoes also contain melatonin, or you could take supplements provided by your pharmacy or health store.
Write down your worries
We all worry, so no wonder we are liable to lie awake thinking about them. However, spend some time before going to bed making a list of them in a notebook, and then literally close the book on them before hitting your pillow. You might also write down your worries, and include possible solutions in how you are going to deal with them. This way, you have dealt with the things that will cause you anxiety at night, giving you peace of mind in knowing that your worries are not insurmountable.
We can’t control sounds outside our windows, such as traffic or barking dogs, but we can minimise the sounds to help us get to sleep quicker. Replace them with relaxing sounds, such as classical music, nature sounds, or white noise. You might also listen to an audio book, not only for the story but also for the tone of voice which can be comforting. You should also remove anything that is causing you a problem in the house. Can’t stand the sound of a ticking clock? Remove the batteries. Partner keeping you awake with their snoring? Put them in the shed (only joking)!
We hope you have found our advice helpful. You may have hints and tips of your own, and if so, please share them with us. There may be situations behind your sleeplessness that need extra attention. Always speak to a medical professional if you have particular health concerns, and look for ways to deal with any stresses in your life, as they will continue to play on your mind when you are trying to sleep. We wish you good luck and a good night’s sleep