How Do I Get Back to Sleep (and stay there)?

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How do I get back to sleep (and stay there)?

Ever asked yourself “how do I get back to sleep (and stay there)?” or frustratingly groaned into the darkness “I just want to go to sleep!” as you change positions and crankily adjust your pillow? I have been there so many times … in fact I’m fairly certain we’ve ALL been there before – tossing and turning in bed, trying desperately to fall asleep or get back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. Whether it’s stress, a noisy neighbour, or something else that’s keeping you up, it can be tough to get those precious few hours of shut-eye.  And the more we “will” it to happen, the more it seems out of our reach.
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For me it’s often waking up realising I’ve either forgotten something, I need to remember something or I am just worrying about something. (Let me just say that “something” has a lot to answer for!).  The first two are usually fixed by simply writing it down.  Have a trusty pen and notebook next to your bed, jot it down and your mind believes it’s now been accounted for.  But that last one … worrying … boy oh boy, that can really just ruin it all. Your thoughts go from one scenario to the next and you can often end up worrying about something you didn’t even realise you needed to. Like that time 16 years ago when you didn’t have a come back to someone who really rubbed you the wrong way and now you have at least five good one liners ready to go that would have just shut that conversation down – haha!
But there is no need to worry or come up with some sassy one liners because we’re here to help! Read on for our top tips on how to get back to sleep (and stay there).

get back to sleep

How do I get back to sleep (and stay there)?

1. Understand why you woke up in the first place.

If you can identify what woke you up, you can often simply address the issue and go back to sleep relatively easily.  Having a notepad and pen next to the bed is perfect for jotting those frantic thoughts down where you’re worried you may not remember them when you wake up later.  Another good example is if you wake up because you have to go to the bathroom, then simply get up and go— no need to lie there stressing about it! However, if you wake up and can’t identify a specific reason, then it’s likely that something more systemic is at play. In this case, read on for more tips.

stress

Stress

If we’re feeling stressed, it could be that our brains are just too “wired” up and on alert making it hard to fall asleep. If this routine is a constant for you, you probably find yourself then worrying about “not sleeping” and then you’re on that never-ending mouse wheel.  As hard as it might be to do so, try not to stress about not sleeping and also don’t associate sleeping with stress.  There are a couple of breathing exercises that can help calm your racing mind.

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (aka ‘belly breathing’)

    This engages the large muscle at the base of the lungs which can also strengthen the diaphragm. This increases our efficiency of breathing.

    1. While lying down, place one hand at the top of your belly, right below your rib cage and place your other hand on your upper chest.
    2. Inhale through your nose and feel your belly rise. Your other hand on your chest should remain quite still.
    3. Keeping your chest still, brace (tighten) your stomach muscles and exhale through your lips (like you’re whistling … but don’t whistle, otherwise you’ll most likely be the reason someone else can’t get to sleep!)
    4. Repeat.
      This can take a bit of practice but it will definitely reduce your stress and promote relaxation.
  2. 4-7-8 Breathing

    This is a little bit more advanced and may not be very comfortable for you if you have difficulty holding your breath.  It is considered safe and easy though, so maybe just give it a try and see how you go.

    1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth (keep it here during the whole exercise).
    2. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
    3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
    4. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.  Keep it controlled so you can slowly breathe out for the whole 8 seconds.

If you’re finding that you are often worried, stressed or anxious and it is affecting your ability to sleep well, it might be a good idea to talk to your local GP or your psychologist.  They can give you some management strategies to alleviate the anxiety or stress which will have you feeling much better and also help you sleep better too.

create a bedroom routine

2. Establish a bedtime routine

A consistent bedtime routine is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. By going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, your body will naturally start to feel tired when it’s time for bed. Additionally, try winding down for 30 minutes before sleep by reading or taking a bath— this will help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
  1. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
  2. Avoid caffeine before bedtime.
  3. Avoid alcohol and nicotine at nighttime.
  4. Minimise your screen time.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques (such as stretching and breathing exercises).
relaxing bedroom environment

3. Create a relaxing bedroom environment & keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool

One of the best ways to improve your sleep environment is by ensuring that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider investing in blackout curtains or an eye mask if light is an issue, and use a fan or white noise machine if noise is keeping you up at night. Additionally, most people sleep best in a cool room— around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) is often cited as the perfect temperature for sleeping.
  1. Maintain a comfortable room temperature (20*C).
  2. Dim the lights.
  3. Block out outside noise.
  4. Keep your bed just for sleeping (ie. if you can’t sleep, get up until you feel sleepy again).
  5. Try soothing scents in a spray or diffuser such as Goodnight Essential Oil Blend.
  6. Is your mattress OK?  Is your pillow OK?  Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.
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Conclusion:

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night, try some of these tips to see if it helps. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a dark/quiet/cool sleeping environment, and understanding WHY you woke up in the first place can all help you get back to sleep quickly and easily— allowing you to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Wishing you good nights & days ahead.
La’Dormir

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