Mental Health and Lifestyle

How to sleep when you can’t

So today I am going to be writing about SLEEP!

I’m gonna be sharing a few things I’ve learnt that help me a lot both with getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Sleep issues are very common and so many people experience them. I’ve had my fair share myself and if you’ve experienced them too, you’ll know it’s the worst thing…

I’ve found that it’s the anxiety surrounding not being able to sleep which is the most difficult thing to deal with – because it’s a time when it is quiet, and your thoughts are the only thing you can hear.

But we need sleep

We need sleep in order for our brains to function properly.

We need sleep to recover from our workouts and for our muscles to repair

We need sleep for our body generally to repair itself. Without sleep, our immune systems weaken and you become more prone to health problems and illnesses.

I’ve also found that when I don’t get enough sleep, my body is in search for another way to get energy – and so when you don’t get enough sleep you can often feel more hungry and therefore eat more than you usually would.

There are so many reasons why we need sleep, so i’m not going to go in to a load of detail about that. HOWEVER, I do want to help those who do experience sleeping issues, and so down below i am sharing a few things that I find help me:

1. Do not go on your phone late at night or before bed.

This is my top and most crucial tip because whenever I have done this I have seriously regretted it so much, because instantly, I am unable to sleep afterwards. It seems to penetrate my eyes and makes them feel unable to relax and drift off. It makes my eyes feel very unrelaxed. It’s something to do with the light on the phone screen, which is the same with computers and TV screens.

So, stop yourself from going on your phone late at night – especially for more than 10 minutes. Just put the phone away out of sight on charge somewhere, turn off notifications and leave it alone. Instead…

2.  Read a book

It relaxes your eyes instead, because of the actual movement of your eyes when you’re doing so. Reading is therefore a good way to wind down your mind and relax before you go to sleep.

3. Buy an eye mask

These are helpful if you get woken up from it getting light, your room isn’t particularly dark generally, or if you’re anything like me and you keep opening your eyes to check that you’re falling asleep. Wearing this means that its black when you open your eyes and so you might as well keep them closed. It will also block out any light which may affect you when trying to sleep. If you don’t have one you can just throw a pair of leggings or a sock over your eyes – it works just as well!

4. Keep your eyes open

This sounds a bit contradictory, but surprisingly it can help.

Sometimes when you’re trying to sleep and you’re trying to force your eyes to relax (if you’re like me and have a problem relaxing your eyes) it can feel very unnatural trying to do so which can instead pull you further away from sleep. But if you just keep them open instead your eyes will eventually, naturally, just want to close – especially if you’re keeping still in your bed…

5. Find a comfortable position and stay there

When you’re in bed, get in to a position that is comfortable and relaxing, and just stay in that position. When you can’t sleep and you’re tossing and turning and getting frustrated and you’re stressing about it and you’re worrying about being sleep deprived the next day… it can get overwhelming not only mentally but also physically. Just stay still, stay calm physically and the mind will follow the body.

6. Meditation in bed

I use the Headspace sleeping exercise which consists of two activities.

The first one allows your mind to get in to a relaxed state. You do the exercise by picturing in your mind everything that has happened in the day –  from the start right up until the very present moment of you lying in your bed. This initiates a peace of mind and by becoming present with now, you can relax in the now-ness.

It then moves on to the second part of the exercise, which is an activity that allows your body to move in to a relaxed state.

You do so by focusing on each part of your body, from your feet to the top of your head. With each body part, you mentally put them sleep and switch them off.

These activities has always enabled me to get in to a completely relaxed state.

There is also the option of following your breath, or counting down from 1000 to 1. These are both simple, calming things for your mind to focus on.

You may even find that you fall asleep in the middle of the exercise!

I highly recommend.

7. Journal

You know when you’re lying in your bed and you’re tossing and turning and thoughts are going through your head over and over again. You’re worrying about what happened that day and what’s happening tomorrow and what you’ve got to do and whats gonna happen if you don’t get to sleep, for example.

A good way to deal with this is to whip the notebook out and just write everything down. Allow the words to pour on to the page and then just put the notebook down. Tell yourself you’ll deal with it in the morning.

Then let us go and allow yourself to relax.

8. Buy some ear plugs

These have helped me a lot. They are particularly helpful if people get up before you and they make a noise, or if a lot of noise happens in your house, or even just if you live in a noisy area and you get disturbed by nise quite easily. If you’re a light sleeper like I am you’ll get what I mean.

Using these block out some sound. With extra loud noses they may be heard slightly less and you might not wake up. If not, you can use some headphones which slot in to your ear – they work just as well!

9. Have a snack before bed

Have you ever experienced waking up in the night and feeling hungry?

Or trying to get to sleep but you feel unable to relax because of some annoying hunger pangs?

I don’t know why I do, but I very occasionally experience this – if I don’t have a snack.

For me having a snack takes away the hunger. It also takes away the anxiety of: ‘what if i get hungry‘.

I therefore recommend consuming something healthy which will keep you full. A bowl of cereal, or even just a glass of milk would do perfectly! But avoid anything overly sugary like chocolate, or anything caffeinated, as these may have the opposite effect and keep you up (especially the caffeine)

10. Drink chamomile tea

Although this won’t literally make you fall asleep, it is a nice thing to drink before bed to relax you and get you in to a sleepy mood, (IF you stay off your phone).

But despite you maybe wanting to drink this in your bed, in contradiction to this, I recommend you not drinking a lot of fluids late at night around the time when you are going to be going to bed altogether! Because if you’re anything like me and you’ve drunk a lot, then you wake up in the night and need to go to the toilet. Sometimes I feel that once I’ve been up, I find it difficult to get back to sleep. And if you drink a lot you might wake up several times – which is not good.

11. Set your intentions

You may think of this as praying, or even just affirming something, or setting your intentions. But what I like to say is: “I intend to slip in to a quiet and peaceful sleep.”

When you say this in your mind, also feel in your body with faith that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s like surrendering to sleep, and just allowing it to happen. Sleep will come when the time it right for it to come.

Allow it to happen by having faith that you WILL just slip off in to sleep. It’s about the desire and being able to back it with faith.

Waking up in the night

Then there is the issue of waking up in the night and not being able to return to sleep. This feels to me like a completely different problem in itself, and in a way I struggle with it even more. I haven’t really found a solution specifically for it, but I try to do the same sort of things I would do if I was having trouble getting to sleep generally.

The falling back to sleep activity on Headspace is based on counting from 10,000 down to 1.  Just doing this in itself is another good activity to try because it gives your mind something calm and simple to focus on.

You might find that you end up falling asleep half way through. This is comparable to the Headspace sleeping activity and meditation, which I tend to fall asleep during.

If YOU have found ways to deal with your sleeping issues then leave a comment down below

I’m sure a lot of other people would love to hear, myself included, because sleep issues are awful and you cant get enough sleep tips!!

Also, share this with somebody who is experiencing sleep problems themselves, because you never know, it could help them! Different methods work differently for different people.

Follow me on Instagram if you don’t already (@bodylovemind) because this is where I post daily! I’d also love to connect!

I hope this has helped you

Louise x

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