Having a good night’s sleep was never really an issue for me until I entered my mid to late twenties. I was always (and still am, to an extent) the kind of person that can fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. However, I’ve noticed that with my increasing anxiety through the years of unavoidable “adulting” and the many changes I’ve gone through in the past year, sleep hasn’t been the easiest thing for me after a long day of stress. I often catch myself thinking too much about what I have to do the next day or what I might be regretting about year’s past. This usually culminates to hours spent tossing and turning and a few temper tantrums here and there. I know that I’m not the only person out there who suffers from difficulty sleeping, so I thought it would be useful to share a few tips and tricks that I keep up my sleeve for sleepless nights.
Tiring Yourself Out
The easiest way to get yourself to sleep is by tiring out your body throughout the day. It’s no coincidence that the most structured and routined sleeps I had were when I was running at least 3 days a week. Of course, I understand this isn’t possible for everyone, especially for those with disabilities of any sort. I’m not going to sit here as the able-bodied blogger and say “get outside more”, “do yoga everyday”, “connect with nature”, because that’s not at all the mentality I subscribe to. While having hard-core workouts are great for building muscle and pushing yourself to the limits, many people live happy and healthy lives without doing any, either because they can’t or they don’t want to. Both are fair.
What I’m suggesting and what I’ve noticed has worked for me is even just doing housework, going out for a walk on a hot day, or spending a few hours in a very social environment as great ways to tire yourself out, both physically and mentally. My mind as well as my body needs to be ready to shut down for the day when I get into bed and these are a few simple ways I’ve noticed work for me.
Taking A Hot Shower Before Bed
This one is my favourite and my go-to technique when I need it. Taking a hot shower and letting the steam build around you, relaxing your muscles right before you are ready to curl up in bed is a surefire way to boost that melatonin production. I’ve noticed that most of my stress is held in my jaw, neck, upper back, and shoulders, so sitting for a few minutes under scorching hot water really helps to loosen up my muscles so that I don’t feel uncomfortable when I’m ready to go to sleep.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever stop recommending journaling for any issue that someone might have. It has helped me through so many tough times and allowed me to look back on my progress throughout the years as proof that I have changed and matured, despite never really believing it. The main reason I have a hard time sleeping is usually because mind is working overtime, dwelling on situations or anxieties that I feel I can gain control over if I just keep thinking about. Not thinking about them, in a way, feels like losing control, and that seems to be my biggest fear, according to my therapy sessions.
So, I’ve noticed that by journaling right before bed I can get out all those thoughts that might be weighing heavy on my mind out on paper. A purge, if you will. I can dump them all out into my journal, freeing my mind to think about as little as possible when I’m finally ready to check out for the night.
This was a technique that was taught to me by my therapist when I told her about my issues sleeping. It stems from meditation and forcing your mind to focus on numbers rather than all the crazy thoughts it wants to. The goal is to stay focused on counting down while simultaneously breathing in and out, relaxing your body and ignoring any anxious thoughts that might be trying to break through. It starts with a deep breath in, then thinking about the number 5, then breathing out and repeating the process until you get to one. I usually go through this a few times before I finally fall asleep, but I can honestly say that it always works for me when my mind is racing.
ASMR & White Noise
This is usually my last ditch effort after all of the above haven’t worked. I’ve been a fan of ASMR for the past few years and am one of those people that get the “tingles” with certain noises. If I’m feeling particularly restless one night and just can’t seem to fall asleep I’ll usually pop in my headphones and watch an ASMR video or put on some white noise to help drown out any sounds around me. I try not to use this technique too often because I don’t want its effects to wear out. If it’s 2 am and I still don’t feel even remotely close to falling asleep then I’ll put on one of the videos below to help:
What’s your go-to method for falling asleep?