How To: Fall Back to Sleep

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to get a great night’s sleep beyond just having a good mattress. This week, I have some tips to get you back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Let it Be

Relax at NightA big contributor to sleeplessness is worry and anxiety. With everything we have going on in life, it’s understandably hard to turn off our brains at night, even after snuggling up on a comfortable mattress.

Eric Olson, the co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, suggests scheduling a time during the day to worry. Try keeping a journal to write your worries in. If stress still wakes you up in the middle of the night, grab the journal and write down what’s bothering you.

You can think of worrying as a hunt. You are trying to find a solution to your problem, which actually stimulates your brain. Instead of focusing on the issue, imagine a solution. It can be imaginative and outlandish, but it helps to shut down the hunt.

Another cause of anxiety in the middle of the night is the simple fact that you can’t fall back to sleep! You’ve probably noticed that the more you think about it the harder it is to fall back to sleep.One way to combat this is by turning your clock around. If you aren’t thinking about time, you can let your mind fall back to a relaxed state.

Frankie Says Relax 

Try some relaxation techniques to help you fall back to sleep.

Here are some of the most common methods:

Meditate and Relax1. Meditation and Breathing – Noticing your breath can be very relaxing. I’m a big advocate of meditation, I usually meditate 1-5 hours per day. If you’re new to the idea, there are apps you can download to guide you through it.

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This is the practice of tensing and then relaxing the muscles of your body, one at a time. You can start from your toes and end at your head – if you get that far.

3. Visualization – Imagine you are in a relaxing environment. Taking yourself to a peaceful place can help you fall back asleep.

4. Relaxing music or sounds – This can be a great thing to focus on when you are trying to fall asleep. It can help calm and quiet your mind. Again, there are apps that you can use for this.If you are going to use your phone at night to use these apps, make sure you have your screen at a brightness level that isn’t going to jar you awake. Once again, there’s an app for that: relaxing music app.

Get Up, Stand Up

If you’ve been awake for twenty minutes, it might be time to get out of bed. Just for a little while. And don’t do anything stimulating.

Try doing something relaxing, such as reading, listening to calming music, or even taking a bath. For some, simple yoga poses or light stretching can be helpful. If you aren’t used to this kind of activity, though, it is probably best to stick to something less physical.

Getting out of bed does a couple things:

1. It distracts your mind from the fact that you can’t fall asleep. This will reduce the anxiety you have about being awake.

2.  If you spend time in bed awake, you will start to associate your bed with poor sleeping. By getting out of bed, your brain won’t be trained to feel anxious about getting to sleep.

Comfort and Joy

Get ComfortableIf you are waking up because you are uncomfortable or in pain, check your mattress. If you have sagging and severe body indentation, you may need a new mattress. Supportive, comfortable pillows are important, too.

Make sure your room is at a proper temperature. Extreme heat or cold can prevent quality sleep. Tracey Marks, MD, author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified, says “The sweet spot for sleep seems to be somewhere between 68 and 74 degrees,” so keep that in mind.

I hope this list helps you when you wake up in the middle of the night. If you try these techniques and still have trouble, talk to your doctor about other options.

Find a bed that makes you feel good,

Scott