Help me, I can’t sleep!

I’m sure I do not need to start this article by telling you how important sleep is. It can affect our mood, our cognitive ability, our patience, how we feel physically, and so on. A good night’s sleep is imperative, not only for good mental health but for a healthy lifestyle in general. Often we have nights or periods of time where we may struggle to sleep, and it can feel like we’re tormenting ourselves, lying awake looking at the clock thinking ‘well if I fall asleep now I could have this many hours’ sleep’. So, in this article, I would like to share with you my top tips for getting to sleep on those more difficult days. Most of you will know that feeling where your body feels tired but your mind is racing and keeping you up, and this is when these tips should help the most.

Seven top tips to help you sleep

1. Don’t look at the clock

Although you will feel tempted to, this is only going to make it harder to fall asleep. By watching the clock you will be making yourself more anxious, worrying about how you’re going to cope the next day on such little sleep. Like a vicious circle, these anxious thoughts will then keep you awake. So turn your phone off or hide your watch, but do not watch the clock.

2. Make a to-do list

One of the things that keeps me up most at night (especially the night before a holiday or trip) is trying to remember all the things I’ve got to do tomorrow. If this is what’s keeping you awake, make a note in your phone or write yourself a to-do list. By writing the tasks down, you are storing the reminders on a piece of paper rather than in your head, so your brain can stop reminding you of the task and you should be able to relax and sleep more easily.

3. Get out of bed

Don’t stay in bed thinking about falling asleep - even if it’s 2am. Get out of bed and go downstairs, maybe make yourself a cup of tea. I’ve tried this a few times and it really works. As soon as you’re out of bed and doing something, an overwhelming bout of tiredness hits you, and it’s just a case of can you get back to bed before falling asleep on the sofa!

4. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to distract and relax the mind when trying to sleep. I usually type into YouTube ‘sleep meditation’, and thousands of videos will appear. Choose one that you find calming. Whether it’s just music or a guided sleep meditation, they can be a great aid in both getting to sleep and staying asleep.

5. Write down your thoughts and feelings

Much like the to-do list, writing down thoughts and feelings can aid sleep by clearing the mind. You don’t even need to read back what you wrote. It might not be in full sentences - maybe it's just words - but getting the thoughts onto paper allows the mind to relax.

6. Listen to relaxing music

Another great distraction technique. Listen to some music you find soothing. It will naturally guide your body into a calm state and make you feel sleepy.

7. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation techniques are fantastic in aiding sleep. I have yet to complete one without falling asleep. Again, you may find them in sleep meditation videos on YouTube, or search for progressive muscle relaxation videos. The aim is to tense and relax every muscle in your body, starting at your toes and working your way up. It’s so calming I’m always asleep before I can finish!

Not all of these methods will work for you, and remember they might not work straight away. It is important to try them for a couple of weeks to see if they are useful. I hope this article can be of some help!

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