Schedule disturbances and your sleep
With changing daytime schedules and our work schedule being upended, sometimes our sleep schedule goes awry as well!
We’ve all known the moment when we wake up in the middle of the night, too late in the night but not early enough in the morning to not try and fall back asleep. Ten minutes go by … then twenty….then thirty, and you’re soon wondering if you’ll be able to fall back asleep at all. Try a few of these efficient tips to help you fall back to sleep in minutes.
Stay in one position
If you’re a side sleeper stay on your side, if you’re a back sleeper stay on your back, etc. Avoid tossing and turning in multiple positions. Your brain will associate the stillness with a reason to go to sleep as opposed to standing or sitting up straight which can give your brain a reason to stay awake.
Try deep breathing exercises, meditate, listen to calming music or a boring podcast (there are specific ones for sleep). Anything that will calm the mind down. Or try reciting songs, poems, or doing math in your head. Similar to the principle of counting sheep, creating a pattern is soothing and allows your brain to relax, slowly gentling you to fall back asleep.
Another way to help your brain and body to relax is progressive relaxation. A technique developed by physicians to reduce muscle tension, it’s done by focusing on releasing one specific muscle group at a time. Holding tension in your muscles signals to your brain that it needs to remain alert. Therefore consciously reducing that stress sends signals that it’s time to fall asleep. Start with large muscle groups (thighs and back) taking long, deep breaths, and slowly work your way to smaller muscles (hands and face). Contract each for 5 – 10 seconds with 20 seconds of rest in between.
Don’t stare at the clock
No one likes to watch their prime sleeping hours waste away as they lay there awake. But constantly checking the clock can add stress and actually keep you awake. It’s best not to focus on the time when you wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, try one of these other sleep tricks and do your best not to look at the clock.
Light, temperature, and noise are important environmental factors that impact your quality of sleep.
Make sure it’s dark, cool, and quiet
This is something you can work on before you go to bed. Light, temperature, and noise are important environmental factors that impact your quality of sleep. If you tend to wake up mid-sleep, make sure your room is dark, the temperature is set to something cool, and external noise is minimal. Since your body temperature regulates differently when you are asleep, reducing the external temperature slightly will help your body gear down for rest. 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature for sleep. Making sure your bed is made with breathable linens made from natural fibers can help you sleep cooler. If you get up to go to the bathroom or get a drink, keep the lighting dim.
Don’t reach for your phone
It can be tempting to go straight for your phone but this can easily get you distracted and the blue light will keep your brain awake. If you are working on sleep hygiene, keeping your phone away from your bed can be helpful. Instead, opt for a book that will tire your eyes or a brain exercise such as visualizing yourself in a game of golf or something you enjoy.
Confront negative thoughts
Negative thoughts can keep you up in a spiral of anxiety and stress. However, these thoughts will only keep you from a time that is meant to be free of negative thoughts; your sleep. It can be difficult to keep these thoughts at bay, and learning to do so can take practice. Distracting yourself with another one of these tips can help. But, if that doesn’t work, then try to fight them off by thinking through the problem or reminding yourself that thinking these thoughts will have no positive effect on your life. Sometimes quickly jotting a note on paper to yourself to think about it tomorrow helps. It can get the negative thought out of your mind and on paper, thus clearing your head.
Get up after 20 minutes
If you are still laying awake in your bed after 20 minutes, it’s best to get up and do some light activity. This could include anything listed above such as listening to music, reading a book, or even light exercise like yoga. The 20-minute rule should be followed as best as possible because according to James Findley, Ph.D., clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, after about 20 minutes of lying awake your brain can begin to associate being awake with being in your bed, making it harder to fall asleep. Keep lighting low to avoid overstimulation.
After about 20 minutes of lying awake your brain can begin to associate being awake with being in your bed, making it harder to fall asleep.
Don’t try to make up for lost sleep
If you’re tired the next day from a loss of sleep the night before, it’s important not to sleep in or take a nap. This can cause your body to get used to losing sleep during the night when you want to work toward getting back on your usual sleep schedule. It might be tough for the day but your body and mind will thank you for the sleep you’ll get that night. If you must nap, keep it to 20 minutes or less.
Make sure your bed is comfortable
Making sure that your mattress is neither too hard nor too soft can enhance your sleep. A pillow made with natural fibers can be helpful as well. Your bed should be a cozy nest that you look forward to and enjoy sleeping in.
To sum up, sleep is one of the main building blocks of both health and productivity. Most people, at some point, wake up in the middle of the night. Putting a few of these tips into practice can help you to get back to sleep fast when that happens.
At The Clean Bedroom, we are all about healthy sleep – Check the links below for more information on getting better sleep.
Originally published in December of 2020.
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