Ever have those nights when you’re lying in bed trying to will yourself to sleep because nothing else seems to be working? And don’t they always seem to occur when you have so much to do the next day that even a full night’s sleep wouldn’t necessarily be enough? Unfortunately, that’s where I was just a few weeks ago.
It seemed like no matter what I did, I would find myself wide awake at 1 AM, just a few hours after I went to bed. There I’d lie for 2-3 hours before finally drifting off just an hour or so before the alarm was set to go off and, when it did, boy was I was beat.
After the first couple nights of this, I tried working out extra hard and for longer periods of time thinking that if I could tire myself out physically, I’d sleep all night through. I even practiced mini-meditations in an attempt to clear my mind of everything that could have possibly been on it. None of it seemed to matter though because when 1 AM hit, there I was, staring at the ceiling, once again dreading how I knew I would feel the next day.
Fortunately, this sleeplessness went away on its own after about a week, but I had to find ways to manage my days until it did. Therefore, I want to share what worked for me so I wasn’t completely useless during this time, in the hopes that these strategies may provide the same benefit for you.
Don’t Think About How Tired You Are
Psychology Today reports that continuously telling yourself you’re tired can create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which your tiredness becomes actual fact because you believe it so deeply, even if you’re realistically doing fairly well with your current lack of sleep. Admittedly though, this one can be difficult because when you’re tired, well, that’s usually all you can think about.
What I did was, every time I found myself thinking, “I’m so tired,” I stopped mid-thought and replaced it with, “I didn’t get much sleep last night, but I’m doing okay.” Although it was just a change in the words I said to myself in my head, it had a pretty positive impact on me and I found that I felt less tired than when I focused so intently on how little sleep I’d had the night before.
Recognize That It’s Only Temporary
If your sleepless nights aren’t due to a health issue or some other chronic, recurring problem, then it also helps to recognize that they are only temporary. While you can’t just force your body to sleep when it doesn’t want to, eventually it will get tired enough to sort itself out on its own, so don’t stress yourself out by worrying about whether you’re getting the recommended amount of shuteye.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things you can do to help speed up the process and return to restful sleep more quickly. For instance, relaxing for a couple of hours before you hit the sack, taking a warm bath to soothe your body, and drinking a glass of calming tea can all help get your mind and body ready to enjoy a better night’s sleep once again.
Up Your Caffeine Dose, But Just a Little
You may be tempted to consume way more caffeine than you’re used to when your nights are shorter and days are longer, but that may compound your problem even further. In fact, according to one study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, consuming 300 mg of caffeine (depending on the strength of the coffee, this can be anywhere from 2-3 cups) can reduce your sleep time by roughly two hours while increasing the number of times you wake up by about double.
That being said, if you’re like me and don’t typically drink a lot of caffeine because you’re so sensitive to it, having one cup of regular joe may be enough to help you feel more awake during the day. Just keep it during the morning hours so it doesn’t affect your sleep later that night.
Practice Muscle Relaxation Exercises
Even though mini-meditations didn’t help me relax as much as I’d have liked, I did find one exercise that did seem to work and that was a muscle relaxation exercise. After all, if you’re all tensed up, stressed about your inability to sleep, your body is going to find it harder to drift off and stay asleep, so relaxing it can naturally lead you into peaceful dreams.
The way it works is this: lie in bed with your eyes closed and, starting at the top of your head and working your way down your body, imagine the muscles relaxing and the tension drifting out of you. Start with your forehead and cheeks, imagining them relaxing before working your way down to your neck and shoulders and so on. Usually, I am fast asleep before I make it to my lower body, which is all the proof I need that this one works—at least it does for me.
These are just a few of the things that I’ve found to help me when I’m struggling with sleepless nights and jam packed days, so I hope they work for you too. If you have your own strategies that work for you, please share them below so that I and all of the other readers can try them out too!
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