Many of us struggle with poor sleep. It maybe a blip, it maybe chronic. A lot of sleep problems are what the mind is telling us: "I didn’t sleep well last night, I probably won’t sleep well tonight and I don’t know how I’ll manage…"
We do manage, we will sleep - part of it is to stop trying so hard. When we get anxious, we worry through the night. I’m better, having continued the programme for a year and a half, but it takes time, effort, patience and perseverance…and practise!
Some of this will be familiar, some new - give it a go:
1 Have your bedroom cooler than your daytime temperature. 18 degrees C is a good temperature to sleep. Open window for fresh air/have air con on if you can, or leave your bedroom door open.
2 Keep your bed for sleep and sex only - no tv and no reading in bed!
3 Keep sleep times regular; go to bed/get up at the same time daily.
4 Eat no later than four hours before bedtime and no alcohol later than six hours before. (It takes the body 6 hours to process the alcohol, so if you are still having a drink at 9.00 pm, you’re likely to wake up around 3.00 am as the effects wear off and you’ll be dehydrated.). Try it for a couple of weeks, notice the difference and what’s more important - sleep or alcohol? Don’t answer!!
5 During the evenings, keep busy! Sit up to watch tv, don’t lie on the sofa or you’ll be sofa-snoozing before you know it!
6 Unless you are wearing blue light-blocking glasses, turn off all main lights, no tv in the last hour and a half if possible. Use a filter on your iPad or phone, but best to keep off them two hours before bedtime.
7 Get ready for bed 1.5-2 hours before bedtime. Then go and sit in a quiet place* away from your bedroom, if you can. Make this YOUR time: Sew, knit, crochet, word searches, read magazines or non-fiction! (No exciting novels that you can’t put down or you’ll keep yourself alert.). Listen to music, a podcast or do mindful meditation. Leave things there for later.
8 If you find you are not sleepy-tired enough, don’t go to bed; stay up 15-30 minutes/an hour longer, until you are yawning, your head is lolling and you have that itchy feeling when your eyes feel full of grit, then go to bed.
9 When in bed, if you cannot sleep within approximately quarter of an hour, you must get up, go to your *quiet place (where you’ve left a magazine, puzzle book etc - anything to take your mind off worrying about sleep! Stay there quietly until you are at stage 8 above - sleepy-tired enough to nod off. Creep quietly back to bed with minimum lights (I use iPhone torch).
10 If you are lying in bed worrying - stop trying so hard! The more you try, the further you push sleep away! Most ‘natural’ sleepers say they just nod off because they don’t struggle. STOP STRUGGLING! Instead, repeat the word THE every two seconds, it lulls you to sleep. You have to mouth the word (but obviously don’t speak it or you’ll drive your sleeping partner mad!). THE has no other meaning that will take you off on a spiral of intruding thoughts.
11 If noise is a problem wear ear ear plugs - I use soft ones that mould to your ear, which help when Mr. Bear’s snoring gets unBearable! Also blocks out the radio when he switches it on if he can’t sleep!
12 Sleep Restriction is a biggie: restricting time in bed was how I achieved better quality sleep: the less time you spend in bed ‘awake’, the better quality sleep you are achieving. Bedtime was 10-10.30, I used to read, but now I had to restrict time in bed from 1.00 am to 6.00 am! It was tough, but within a week, I wasn’t waking up as many times in the night and was awarded an extra 15 minutes sleep per night. I added it to the morning to ‘lie-in’! It doesn’t seem much, but if you are able to sleep more in that whole period, an extra 15 mins is brilliogs! It took a few months but I now go to bed at 11.30pm and get up when I wake fully, between 5.30 - 7.00am depending on the time of the year. No lollygagging in bed for me!
I still wake up in the night but I know I will sleep again. Here’s a Brucie bonus tip I passed on to Sleepios who were struggling with awakenings: If I wake up, I turn my pillow to the cool side and do some deep breathing and tell myself "I deserve and need more sleep". I convince myself I will fall back to sleep and invariably do. It even works for me at 4.30-5.00am…a difficult time for many insomniacs.
I’m still a WiP (a work in progress) as life has a habit of throwing curve balls - but I’m so much better than I used to be….give it a try, you’re worth it.
Love and Bear hugs xxx
A Moodscope Member
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