You feel exhausted and tired, the only thing you want is to find some deep restful sleep. You just have your eyes closed and then it starts. Your mind begins to race. Worries and negative thoughts have decided to steal away the time you desperately need to relax and to rest. You toss and turn, you watch the clock. Tick Tock....time passes and you can't find the calm. The more time passes the more anxious you get, the more stressed you get, the less you will fall asleep.
The less you sleep the more exhausted and stressed you will be the next day. You know that, you have to function, no matter what, so you have to sleep, no matter what. The pressure is on.
Stress and anxiety can cause sleep problems. A lack of sleep can cause and reinforce stress and anxiety. Longterm affects can be devastating. Over a longer period of time irregular and disturbed sleep patterns can lead to serious health issues. So it is paramount to care for restful and relaxing nights.
A variety of problems can cause an unhealthy sleeping pattern. If you feel like having troubles falling asleep, sleeping through the night or waking up regularly way too early, feeling drained and unrefreshed, I would recommend you to visit a medical professional. It is important to exclude all possible physical causes first.
When your sleeping problems do not have a physical cause, it is a signal for you to have a closer look on your mental state. Often people experience trouble sleeping, but do not recognize the bigger picture they are in or they simply choose to ignore it. Sleeping issues are often a mirror of how we feel in our life at the moment. How is your life at the moment? Do you worry a lot? Are you anxious a lot of the time? Do you experience a lot of stress and pressure at work or in private? What do you miss? How do you deal with your issues? Are you self medicating in order to release stress and find some rest? Are you putting extra pressure on yourself and beating yourself up? Are you suppressing something? Dare to observe yourself.
Besides help and support by medical professionals and mental health professionals, there is a lot you can do yourself to improve your sleep and create more inner balance.
Tips for finding restful sleep:
- We do have a natural rhythm of waking and sleeping times. In the evening, when it gets dark our body produces more melatonin and naturally helps us to become tired and sleep. Nowadays we tend keep too much light switched on in the evenings. There is light everywhere, in the house, on the computer, on TV, on the smartphone. Dimming the lights can already have a positive effect on our natural sleeping behaviour. Light some candles instead. Create a relaxing atmosphere at home.
- Play calming and soft music in the background, that helps you to de-stress. It lowers your blood pressure and sends you soothing, relaxing, more positive and balanced vibes.
- Take time to wind down in the evening. Slow your pace, read, take a bath.
- Take note of your worries and undone tasks. Write them down, help your brain to get them out of your system, let them go for now or put them mentally into a box, that you can lock and put it away. Keep them out of your bedroom. Your bedroom is a sacred and peaceful place.
- Avoid stimulants like coffee, black tea, alcohol. You might think, that alcohol is helping you to relax and makes you tired, but this is a false conclusion. Alcohol can make you tired and you fall asleep easily. But in reality it disrupts our natural sleeping pattern. We don't experience the important phase of REM sleep, when we fall asleep. We sleep deeply immediately. That leads to disturbances in the second half of the night, when we should be sleeping deeply. The alcohol stimulates the body, dehydrates us, causes us to wake up and provides us with an unrestful REM-phase, stress, early wake ups, unrestful dreams and difficulties to fall back into sleep.
- Your bedroom is the place to sleep, not to watch TV or reading a book. Use the bed only for sleeping. Connect your bed with rest and relaxation, not with activities.
- When you have troubles falling asleep, don't stay in bed. Get up, do something else, till you feel tired enough and then try again. Avoid screens, do something relaxing. Don't lie in bed trying desperately to fall asleep. It won't work, your experiences taught you so.
- If you are able to connect your bed with relaxation and ease, you can positively help yourself to find comfort in bed and use the time to calm down, meditatively. You can tense and relax different parts of the body and be aware of how it feels like. It sets your mind off worries and brings you to yourself, your body in the moment. Use breathing and relaxation techniques, for example autogenic training. Your body and mind calms down.
- Develop a routine. Go to bed every evening at the same time, try to get up at the same time.
- Don't keep the clock in direct eye sight. It might stress you out to see how late it is.
- Keep a healthy temperature in your bedroom. Don't overheat, don't freeze. A good temperature can be between 16-19°.
- Don't exercise in the evenings. Keep your exercise routine to the mornings or afternoons. Allow your body to become tired in the evenings by keeping it to relaxing activities.
- Create soothing and calming evening rituals. The more you get used to it, the more your body understands it's time to sleep soon.
- When you are in bed, think of something beautiful, holidays you enjoyed, beautiful places you have visited, people you love. Your mind finds peace and helps you to fall asleep faster and easily.
- Meditation, Self hypnosis and mindfulness can help you to find inner balance, release stress and tension and to keep you in the present, calm and relaxed.
- Smell yourself into sleep. You can use the soothing power of essential oils to calm yourself and find some ease and rest. Lavender, bergamot and chamomile are just a few examples.
- One of the most important things is to relax about having to sleep now. The more you think you must sleep, the less likely it is going to happen. How about accepting, that you cannot sleep just yet. There is no law in the world that tells you you must sleep now. Ease.
Good night and sweet dreams.