Last night, I had a pretty hard time getting to sleep. This is not a new phenomenon to me, and I doubt I’m alone. I’ll bet you (yes you) also have trouble getting to sleep sometimes.
So I thought I would share some of the techniques I use for falling asleep.
By the by, I’m clearly not a doctor, and this is by no means a definitive sleeping guide – but these tips seem to work for me.
Here we go.
I try to avoid consuming caffeine and large amounts of sugar within an hour or so before sleeping. That means tea, chocolate, coffee, cola, sugary cereal, etc.
That’s just common sense.
Write down everything that I need to do for the next day. That way, I’ve reassured myself that I’ll deal with those things when I wake up, and I can allow myself to let them go in the mean time.
Turn my computer off. I actually feel muscles in my body relax when I hear it power down. When my computer is on, I’m alert and thinking. When it’s off, then I can sleep.
If I’m lying in bed, and I can’t fall asleep, it makes me tense. Nothing is more frustrating in the night than insomnia, and that frustration usually manifests in me as muscle tension, which keeps me awake.
It’s a vicious cycle.
So, if I’m lying there in bed, all frustrated, I usually ask myself this question:
Is my face all scrunched up?
I’m surprised at how often the answer is “yes”. And how can I go to sleep with a lemon-sucking face?
If my face is tense, no doubt other muscles in my body are tense.
Here’s a lesson that took me 2 years to fully realize:
The easiest way to relieve muscle tension is through breath.
I know, sounds crazy, but it’s true. Here’s how I can prove it to myself: Go into any stretch as far as I can go. Hold it. Now inhale and exhale. I can usually go down quite a bit more by “riding” the exhale. Hmph.
So, anyway, if my face is tense, probably other parts of my body are tense. I try to do a full inventory of these muscles, starting from my toes, up to the top of my head, figuring out what’s tense. If I can’t ease the tension with breath, I give it a good ol’ massage.
I cannot sleep without a clear head. There have been so many times that the only thing keeping me awake was some crazy idea, or a song, or a solution to a problem, etc.
For me, what helps to calm down my overactive brain, is to force myself to only concentrate on one thing.
This is a lot harder than it sounds. It takes practice, and there’s plenty of time for practice if you can’t sleep!
Here’s how I clear my head: I try to picture a black circle on a white background, or a white circle on a black background (some nights, one is easier than the other. Strange…). Then, I just focus my hearing on my breathing, and just focus on breathing in and out.
I try to let myself become absorbed with the act of breathing – trying to find the nuance and uniqueness of every inhale and exhale.
And usually that’ll do it – next thing you know, my alarm clock will be going off, and I’ll be hauling myself out of bed.
Does anybody else have any sleeping tips?