Most of us have experienced the misery of lying awake at night, watching the time go by and wondering when we’ll finally fall asleep. If you have a job to go to in the morning, just knowing that it’s getting closer to the time you have to wake up can actually make the experience seem even worse. Although there’s plenty of information out there about how to create an environment that’s more conducive to sleep, those tips won’t tell you how to fall asleep when you can’t.
Here are a few things you can do:
If you’re still on your back, you’re actually sending your body the wrong message. Instead of training it to associate the bed with sleep, you’re actually teaching it to simply lie there, fully awake and aware.
In other words, the longer you remain there in a frustrated state, the more likely you are to anticipate this exact same situation in the future. Don’t lie there any longer than 15 or 20 minutes. If you haven’t fallen asleep by then, it’s time to put your slippers on and get out of bed. Enjoy something relaxing, like listening to some soothing music, reading a book or taking a bath.
Whatever you choose, make sure to do it away from your bed and don’t return until you begin to feel drowsy.
Try Some Relaxation Techniques
This can include any one of a number of methods you might have heard about, ranging from simple meditation to creative visualization.
Meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, consciously noting the way it rises and falls. Try paying attention to how particular parts of your body feel when you inhale and exhale.
Visualization techniques that may help include picturing yourself in some pleasant natural setting, such as behind a waterfall or on top of a high mountain. You can take it a step further by trying to imagine the sounds and smells that you would experience in such a place.
Try progressively relaxing your muscles by first tensing them up, then relaxing them, starting at the toes and working your way up.
Put The Clock Away
The later it gets, the more anxiety you’re going to feel about the fact that you haven’t fallen asleep. Thus, it only makes sense that looking at the clock will make matters worse. If you get rid of it, obviously you won’t have an alarm to wake up with, so the best thing to do is just turn it around where you can’t see it.
Although the urge to take a peek can certainly be a powerful one, you really need to put some effort into this and remind yourself that there’s no reward in knowing what time it is.
When it comes to sleep aids, regardless of whether they’re prescribed or over-the-counter, they should never be your first choice when you need help falling asleep. With that said, it is not a perfect world and there may be times when the benefits of getting at least some sleep will seem to outweigh the consequences. If and when this occurs, remember to take these medications early.
Don’t wait until 5 a.m., hoping you’ll be able to get two hours of sleep and then suddenly wake up. That groggy feeling is great at 10 or 11 p.m., but it can be disastrous if you have to drive a car or operate machinery. Remember that if you ever find it necessary to take any type of sleep aid, it should always be for the short term.
See Your Doctor
When all else fails, you should make it a point to see your physician. Don’t wait until your job and other important areas of your life begin falling apart to do something about it. You may be referred to a sleep specialist that can help you figure out what’s going on and if it turns out that you have a problem like sleep apnea, you’ll have a chance to ward off other hidden dangers that you might not have been aware of.
As difficult as it might be to get a handle on, sleep is something that we all need. Without it, our lives will begin to crumble and our health will take a turn for the worst. Keep these tips in mind for the next time you’re up late, wondering how to fall asleep when you can’t. Remember there’s a good chance that if you’re trying too hard or worrying too much about how long you’ve been awake, your mind might be the biggest reason you can’t fall asleep.