Before we begin, think about how many hours of sleep you are actually getting. Adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to be able to best function the next day. Getting ourselves on a regular sleep schedule, and regulating our body to do so, is important for our mental, emotional and physical health. Throughout the night, we are experiencing different sleep cycles, some of which includes us being awake. Take a look at what time you need to be up in the morning, and then calculate what time you need to actually be asleep by in order to achieve that 7-9 hour window. Then, add about an hour or two to that to make up for any tossing and turning that you may or may not be aware of.
Here are some tips to help you stop sleepless nights:
1. Get in bed at least 1 hour before you would like to be asleep. This gives your body time to relax and let it know that it is time for rest.
2. Plan ahead for the next day. Write down your tasks and goals for the following day. Get your thoughts out on paper so they are not clouding your mind before bedtime. You can do this as a journaling exercise for any racing thoughts you may have, as well.
3. Turn off all electronics. Do something else calming, such as reading or listening to a guided meditation or music. Listening to a guided meditation or sleep hypnosis can be useful, especially in the beginning stages of regulating your sleep cycle. There are tons of great ones on Youtube to try, until you find one that works for you.
Some links you may try:
4. Engage in the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique until you fall asleep. Breathe in slowly for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and breathe out of your mouth slowly for 8 seconds.
5. Utilizing lavender aromatherapy is a great way to help your body relax and fall asleep. You can get an aromatherapy diffuser to put next to your bed, deeply inhale a few drops of oil, or even put lavender cream on the bottom of your feet to help your body infuse the aromatherapy.
6. End all conversations before that 1-hour period of getting into bed. Allow this time to be for you. Bringing any anxiety and angst into your sleeping space can cause disrupted rest.
7. Invest in a white noise machine or phone application. Drown out any sound around you.
8. If you wake up in the middle of the night, and experience anxiety or angst, engage in the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique until you fall back to sleep. If you are finding that it is not working because your anxiety is too high, remove yourself from the bedroom and engage in a calming activity until you become sleepy again (i.e., reading, guided mediation). You don't want your mind and body to associate your bed with anxiety.
9. Only use your bed for sleeping or intimacy. Activities such as watching tv, doing work, or talking on the phone cause our body and mind to associate our bed with other wakeful activities not conducive to rest and sleep.
10. Wake up at the same time every day (or for the most part). Changing your sleep routine and hitting the snooze button will disrupt a normal sleep cycle. Your body will become more regulated if you get up when you wake up, rather than stay in bed.