Sleep has not always eluded me. Many nights, I sleep just fine. It mostly depends on my anxiety level from the day. Do you experience this same phenomenon as well? Why is it that anxiety (as well as other matters) interferes with our sleep? Doesn't anxiety know that we need the sleep to heal? I'm going off on a soapbox that I know is unnecessary. But, I have some tips that may help you find sleep again.
*Note: I am not a licensed counselor, psychologist, or sleep doctor. These tips are just compiled from my experiences and should only complement, if it is right for you, professional help. Please consult a physician or psychologist if you have sleep problems.
Now, let's get to it:
- Get those racing thoughts out of your head. If you have something nagging on your brain, try writing it down. This way, you can try to feel less attached to it and it doesn't have to enter or stay in that vicious thought cycle that keeps you up at night. Hey, you may even be able to work through some of the problems out that could be attached to those thoughts and feelings! Another plus!
- Try a sleep mask. Before I was married, I lived with my parents. My room had this beautiful eyebrow window that let in both the beautiful sunlight and dazzling moonlight. My eyes processed this moonlight even when my eyes were closed. I think it even caused me a little bit more anxiety because I kept thinking about how I was going to sleep through this light. So I bought an eye mask. It has made all of the difference. I can even drift to sleep when my husband keeps his lamp on!
- Unplug. Similar to the natural light (but to me, much harsher on the eyes), the brightness of the phone is likely more stimulating to the brain. Try putting the phone, tablet, or laptop (even switch off the TV-I know, hard) away for a given time before going to sleep. Reading a physical book always makes me sleepy!
- Essential oils. *Please use these with care.* Try diffusing some amazingly delicious smelling essential oils into the room. Lavender is a favorite. I have found that having a nice smell in the room also helps me to breathe deeper. Why? Because I WANT TO smell the amazing smell. I want to breathe it all in. Breathing deeper also helps relax the body, thus (hopefully) helping you fall asleep. Tip: Practice intentional or mindful breathing before trying to fall asleep.
- Exercise. I don't enjoy any exercise unless yoga is involved (see my Instagram @skuyoga). I have recently tried incorporating non-yoga workouts into my exercise regimen, but I have, of course, tried to incorporate yoga into those workouts. My first piece of advice is this: try different types of exercise and pick one out that you think that you would be willing to commit to. Then, once you have that in place, work on making it a routine. Try to put it at night so that you are tired when you go to sleep. If you struggle with routine, start small. Start with 2 minutes of exercise daily and stay there until you are ready to move up to 5 minutes and so on, and do it in whatever intervals to make your goal attainable. I do approximately 30 minutes of yoga at night and I have started to do about 15 minutes of other exercise in the morning.
ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz............Are you drifting off yet? We hope so.