Of course, it is necessary to eliminate the cause of poor sleep, and not its consequence. But what to do if right now this consequence can interfere with your rest?
“Very often people say they are physically tired but cannot calm their mind, especially if they are very anxious or worried about something,” says James Ph.D., and director of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Behavioral Sleep Medicine clinical program Findlay.
However, according to Findley, there are some tricks that can help your brain cancel the “meet-to-night” and calm down so you can get some rest. Take them into service and apply if you suddenly have insomnia.
Make a to-do list
“Anxiety wakes people up, and it doesn’t have to be negative experiences,” Findlay says. “It could also be something positive that you’re planning, like a trip or a big event with a lot of things you need to keep in mind.”
Take some time during the day or early evening to work through these issues. Write a to-do list on a notebook or notepad. But do not sit down for them late at night so that the brain has time to process this information and let it go.
A recent study showed that making a to-do list for the future helped people fall asleep nine minutes faster than those who wrote about their daily tasks. Moreover, the more detailed and longer the list of upcoming tasks, the faster you fall asleep. It may seem counterintuitive that focusing on tomorrow’s responsibilities will lead to restful sleep, but researchers are confident that if you transfer them from your head to paper, you clear your mind and stop the thought flow.
Get out of bed
If you feel like you’re lying down and haven’t been able to sleep for a long time, get out of bed. The practice of staying in bed during insomnia can train your brain by closely linking the two. If you can’t fall asleep for more than 20-30 minutes, move to another place and do something else. Do other things until you get tired so that you can go to bed and sleep peacefully.
There is a belief that for a good rest a person needs eight hours of sleep. However, everyone is different, and six or seven hours may be enough for your body. This fact can also be the cause of your insomnia, so spend the time before bed not in bed, but doing something else.
Read a book
“You can’t stop the thoughts in your brain, but you can distract it by focusing on something neutral,” Findlay says.
Remember that some books make you fall asleep. It may be something scientific, but do not read books with an exciting plot at night. Read for 20-30 minutes or until you feel sleepy.
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts and audiobooks can help take your mind off your worries. It can be a good alternative to reading if you don’t want to turn on the lights or strain your day-weary eyes. If you are not alone in the room, listen with headphones.
However, the rules for podcasts and audiobooks remain the same as for books. Find a topic that isn’t too exciting or disturbing (don’t choose political debates or murder investigations), get out of bed, and listen elsewhere, such as on the living room couch.
Or try soothing sounds
There are no good studies on sound therapy, but it may work for some people. Some insomniacs listen to the sound of the ocean or the rain and it really puts them to sleep.
Download a sleep music app or buy a special noise sound system to try this method. This will help create a more favorable sleeping environment. Sounds can also bring back memories of more joyful memories from the past and help you take your mind off what’s bothering you in the present moment.
Concentrate on your breath
Another way to calm your thoughts is through simple breathing exercises. Your mind will no doubt go back to other thoughts, but it’s important to keep focusing on your breath. Deep and slow breathing can slow your heart rate, which can be helpful if you’re worried about something.
Sleep specialist and Ph.D. Michael Breus advises the following breathing technique: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, inhale through your nose for about two seconds, feeling your stomach expand, then gently press on it as you exhale. Repeat until you feel calm.
Another technique is simple but very effective. Repeat to yourself with each inhalation “one”, and with each exhalation “two”. After 5-10 minutes of repetitions, you yourself will not notice how you fall asleep.
“The idea again is to focus your thoughts on something you’re not worried about,” Findlay says. “You can immerse yourself in your breath or imagine that you are walking on the beach or swimming in the clouds.”
The more you practice meditation and guided imagery, the more effectively it will affect your sleep. You can use dedicated apps or YouTube videos to get started. But it is best to practice meditation during the day so that your mind is clear and relaxed by the evening.
Eat something carb
Heavy meals before bed can slow down digestion and lead to sleep disturbances, and too much refined sugar will definitely keep your eyes from closing. But light and healthy carbohydrate snacks can be helpful for healthy sleep. For example, it can be popcorn (without a huge amount of oil and salt) or whole grain crackers.
Carbohydrates contribute to the production of serotonin, which is regulated by the brain. If it’s been too long since your last meal and you’re feeling hungry but don’t want to fill up at night, have a snack to distract your brain from your empty stomach.
Talk to your doctor
We have sleepless nights from time to time, but if this becomes a permanent process, it’s time to talk to your doctor. A specialist can assess whether any medications you are taking or your habits are contributing to this. He will also suggest new ways to solve a given problem or give good medical advice.
Your doctor may also recommend cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, during which a therapist can help you identify and overcome problems that are interfering with your sleep.
“We have people monitoring their sleep with sleep diaries and we use that to make recommendations,” Findlay explains.
Medicines for insomnia are not recommended because they are not intended for long-term treatment. Moreover, after canceling the drug, you will not be able to fall asleep again. Therefore, it is better to deal with the causes of insomnia in order not to work with the consequences.
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