Do you find it hard to fall asleep at times because you keep worrying about work or other things in your life? Or do you wake up during the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep, sometimes staying awake for hours because your mind is so busy and active? As a result you will feel tired, worn out and irritable the following day, and a lack of sleep may create health problems in the long term.
Indeed, I have experienced this many times myself, you go to bed but as soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind goes in hyperactive mode and you worry about work, money, relationships or about what you have to do the next day or your mind goes back over past events. You may then tell yourself over and over again that you have to sleep and may even give yourself a hard time for not being able to do so. This of course makes it worse. You end up feeling restless and agitated and stay sometimes awake for hours before falling asleep. If you are like me you and you wake up several times during the night, you may also have the same problem going back to sleep.
I have experimented with many different techniques over the years and while practicing mindfulness daily can help sleep better, I know that I still need to use specific techniques at times to calm down my busy mind when I am trying to fall asleep. I have found five ways that help me calm my mind and fall asleep quicker.
1. Write a list of what you have to do the following day at some point in the evening, prioritizing what you will need to attend to first. By doing this it will make it easier for your mind not to keep thinking about what you have to do the next day when you are trying to fall asleep.
2. I have found very helpful to bring myself to the present moment before going to bed by turning the TV off, put your mobile and tablet aside, and pay attention to the sensations in your body and your movements as you prepare for bed, for example as you brush you teeth, undress, being fully present. If thoughts come in just watch them without judgment and bring yourself back to the sensations of the brush against your teeth, the toothpaste against your tongue, the sensation of the water in your mind, etc. If you meditate, do so before going to bed.
3. Even if you do not meditate, as you go to bed or as you are trying to get back to sleep connect to your breath, for at least one minute, longer if you can, watching the movement of the breath and feeling the sensations in your body, letting the thoughts go.
4. Another technique, involves, while lying on your back, counting the breath by inhaling through your nose to a mental count of four, holding your breath for a count of seven, then exhaling completely through your mouth while you count to eight. Repeat this breathing exercise at least 3 times. This exercise is very effective and easy to do.
5. If you wake up during the night and no 3 and 4 are not helping you to go back to sleep because you have already been hooked by your thoughts and feel too restless and agitated, you can either get up and do a sitting meditation even if if it is only for 5 minutes, you can use a guided meditation to help you. Or try walking around the house very slowly, feeling the sensations in your feet and legs as you do so. Then go back to bed.
Try these and let me know what works best for you!
If you would like a free 30 minutes mindfulness consultation by phone to discuss how I can help you manage and reduce stress and anxiety, deal with difficult emotions, gain clarity in your life and enjoy life more through mindfulness coaching contact Lise on 0405067030.
Dr Lise Saugeres