This post was sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Ah, sleep. It’s really one of my favorite things to do…when I can actually do it! Sleeping is so incredibly beneficial to our bodies and our minds. We literally need it to survive. Yet so many of us have a hard time actually getting it! I’ve personally suffered from some form of insomnia since I was a teenager. For most of my life, the biggest challenge comes when I lay my head down on the pillow. Falling asleep has never come easily to me. Up until recently, I could at least count on the fact that once I finally managed to drift off I’d stay asleep until my alarm rang out. Lately, though, I’ve been waking up multiple times throughout the night, each time unable to drift back right away.
While insomnia can happen for many reasons, for me it’s primarily related to my anxiety disorder. My brain literally never stops going, and most of the time it’s chattering about the things it feels I should worry about. Sometimes, those are very logical worries: bills, my son, illnesses in my family, and so on. Much of the time, though, my brain decides that 2am is the perfect time to worry about something mean someone said to me back in 1993 or something else incredibly random and bizarre. Those of you with anxiety disorder know exactly what I’m talking about!
Over the years, I’ve developed survival techniques to help force my brain out of worry mode and actually quiet down long enough for me to fall asleep. These techniques combined with tips from The National Sleep Foundation have really helped me. Even if you don’t suffer from chronic anxiety, these tips will hopefully help you too!
5 Tips for Getting Some Sleep When Your Brain Won’t Shut Down
Create your own “get drowsy” routine
If I go to bed before I’m physically tired, I’m guaranteed to toss and turn. I make sure I do things that will make me feel drowsy by my “bedtime.” Quiet activities like reading really help. Taking a warm bath with relaxing bath salts an hour or so before bedtime also help trigger feelings of drowsiness. Make sure you make your routine something that you can do every night, no matter where you are. That way, your brain will start to learn that once you begin the routine, it’s time to settle down.
Create the right environment
The right environment makes all the difference in convincing your brain that it’s time for sleep. Ideally, your room should be dark and quiet. For me, the perfect environment is pitch black, with just the sound of my fan in the background. My husband, on the other hand, can’t fall asleep unless the TV is on. We recently got back together after a long separation and we’re trying to find a compromise. I wear a sleep mask and he keeps the volume relatively low. He puts the sleep timer on so the TV isn’t running all night. I admit that I am having a really hard time falling asleep lately because of that TV, but I’m trying to adapt because I don’t want us to sleep in separate rooms! Sleep.org has a great article about adapting to sleeping with others. If you’re dealing with a similar situation, I suggest checking it out.
Create a stress-free buffer around bedtime
BeyondTired.org, a fantastic resource for people who suffer from insomnia, shared five things NOT to do before bedtime. One of those tips was about avoiding stress. Easier said than done for many of us, I know. Still, you can create a buffer around your bedtime and declare it “stress-free time.” Once about 7PM rolls around, I stop checking my emails, stay off of Facebook (too many fights), and stop taking phone calls from anyone that I think may stress me out. You might not be able to eliminate all stress, but at least try to cut back on as many sources of it as you can.
Redirect, redirect, redirect
A few years ago, I started forcing my mind to redirect every time it began worrying about something. I’d create a happy scenario. Something like building my dream home or planning my perfect vacation. Every time my mind wanders, I say very loudly in my head “knock it off” and force it back to the “happy place.” It takes a lot of redirection to keep on track, but this one trick has really helped me fall asleep on even my worst “worrying” nights.
Talk to your doctor
If you just can’t get to sleep at night or are falling asleep but not feeling rested in the morning, talk to your doctor about your options. You could have underlying medical causes that, once treated, can help you get the much-needed sleep that you need. The National Sleep Foundation has tips on how to start a conversation with your doctor about your sleep issues. Along with talking to your doc, you can also join support groups (either online or in person) and learn from others dealing with the same issue. At the very least, you’ll know you’re not alone, and that can go a long way to soothing your anxious mind.
Visit www.sleepfoundation.org and www.sleep.org for more information about how to get a good night’s rest. If you’re suffering from insomnia, I highly recommend checking out www.beyondtired.org. It’s an incredible resource!
Do you have any tips or tricks to help shut your mind down at bedtime? Share in the comments!