Today I woke up with a stomach bug. I was cold, achy, and, well… throwing up. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten sick, but I know exactly why I did. Last week, I lived off of coffee, DayQuil, smoothies and little to no sleep. Life got busy. I just tried to get through. Now, I’m paying for it.
Sleep is important. We all know that. But, if you’re busy or you’re anxious, sleep becomes lower on the list of priorities. So, how do you teach yourself to fall asleep when your mind is running faster than you are?
First, let’s back up a bit. Have you ever been so nervous about something that you laid awake at night, tossing and turning for hours, unable to count enough sheep to doze off?
Of course you have. We all have.
Maybe it’s only happened to you a couple of times, maybe you go through periods of sleep deprivation, or maybe you live with constant insomnia.
Regardless, we know the inability to sleep is crippling, both mentally and physically.
I’m not here to tell you how how important it is, because I don’t know about you, but reading articles about the importance of sleep stress me out and make me even more anxious. It’s like, “Hello! I know sleeping is important. If I could sleep I would!”
But, I’m here to hopefully help. Because of my anxiety, I struggled with being unable to sleep for a lot of years. I still do, sometimes, but I’ve learned how to work through it.
So, when you can’t sleep here’s a quick list of things to run through to begin counting sheep and seeing “z’s” (is that a thing?) from a few of my Twitter followers.
Meditation seems like the latest buzzword, but for good reason. Meditation calms our minds, eases tension, and is relaxing. It takes practice and can be especially difficult if you have a busy mind. But once you’ve done it a few times, it can be life changing.
Need a place to start? Check out this post on brainpickings.org – How To Meditate: An Animated Guide.
I can wholeheartedly attest to lavender essential oil as a best practice for getting some sleep. I use it every night, and have found that I get much deeper and longer sleep. My favorite? Doterra Essential Oils.
Chamomile tea about an hour before bed does wonders for relaxing and unwinding. It’s building practices and creating a bed time routine that help tremendously during those difficult/anxious times that lead to lack of sleep.
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid. It works, but make sure to begin with a small dose at first. I’ve found that it can be powerful and leave me feeling groggy the next day.
Not only does reading make you smarter, it can help you sleep! According to Colin, that is. I’ve tried it as well, and it works. Although, I’ve noticed that using my phone before bed does the opposite and sometimes keeps me awake, so I suggest reading a book. Something heavy… maybe a little boring.
This is a planned practice, of course, but building in an exercise routine will help tire you out and keep your body in a regular pattern. Like Jill mentioned, working out in the morning tires you out and by the time its bed time, sleep isn’t hard to come by. It also helps ward off stress throughout the day, as well.
THE BEST SLEEPING ADVICE I’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN
But, you may know all of those things already. And, I’ve tried them all. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Here’s the best thing I’ve learned to get to sleep when I’m feeling anxious.
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. My favorite therapist once told me that my body will not allow me to stay up all night. At some point it will get tired and fall asleep.
Sounds simple, right?
Here’s the trick. It’s all in your mind. The tossing and turning and worrying it’s all in your head. When faced with that moment of, “Ugh, I cannot fall asleep” just lay there and accept it. What I then do is I mimic a panic attack in a way. I breathe heavier as if I were running. I’ve found that the heavy breathing (as strange as it sounds) calms me down and makes me tired. It takes practice, but it works.
Bottom line, realize that your body will take care of itself if you let your mind let it. Do the best you can to relax… even if it is just staring at the ceiling. It’s tough at first, but you will find peace after trying it a few times.
By building routine in your life, taking time to relax (one of my biggest downfalls), and living healthy sleep becomes a little easier.
And, if you’re one of those who sleeps like a baby every night… we all envy you.