Losing Sleep? Ė Tips on How to Get Back to Sleep for Sleeplessness  and Insomnia sufferers
How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night, then canít get back to sleep for hours?
Maybe you go to bed tired and drowsy after an exhausting day, only to find that soon after your head touches the pillow, eyes closed, you feel wide awake.
Around 70 per cent of adults get less than eight hours of sleep a night on weekdays. So by the weekend, you have a sleep deficit that doesnít get topped up by sleeping in because it runs counter to your body clock. That is the body's natural sleep/night cycle, known as the Ďcircadian rhythmí.
The problem starts soon after waking up in the middle of the night - when you let your mind kick into gear. Like a train leaving a station, thoughts come rolling in. This leads to obsessive thoughts about how much sleep youíre loosing. You anxiously glance at the clock at regular intervals.
If this sounds familiar, youíre setting yourself up in a vicious circle of insomnia. Insomnia is the most common sleep problem Ė itís about not being able to get to sleep due to tension and not being able to get back to sleep after waking up.
All your niggling concerns and preoccupations will surface. Thoughts you repressed all day because of distractions come out in the dead of night stalking. Anxiety stimulates the nervous system then your brain sends signals to the adrenal glands which make you more alert.
One a thought develops, a tension follows with an exaggerated concern that you might forget something. There might even be a sense of dread about tomorrowís coming attractions. At the core of the anxiety is not the thing itself, but ďWill I cope?Ē
If you are in a wound-up state much of the time, an effective way to unwind is to try some relaxation techniques. You can transmute the bodyís stress response into its natural relaxation response which will allow you to fall back to sleep sooner.
Try the tips listed here and see which one you prefer. Itís advisable that when you choose one you persist with it. Donít give up too easily if you find yourself resisting for what seems like a long time.
1. Canít get comfortable? - Lie on your back, straight, with arms by your side. Make sure youíre comfortable. Then stay like that even if you know you canít, and never, sleep on your back. Eventually youíll get drowsy, thatís when you roll over to your side. (This is good for bad back sufferers who canít find a comfortable position.)
2. Canít stop the train of thoughts? - While still drowsy (just after waking), try to stop your mind from kicking into gear by not going along with the first thought that comes in, or the next one, and so on.
You worry youíll forget something if you donít play it over in your mind and this is the trap. You have to trust yourself and not listen to the chatterbox. Let go. If this is too hard, keep a pad and pencil by your bedside. Reach for it and scribble that thought down so you can finally let go of it.
3. Listen to your breathing Ė it has a natural rhythm. Feel your heart beating. Concentrate on it and return your thoughts to it every time your mind wanders away.
4. Think of Water Ė Water has such tranquil qualities. Picture in your mind any form it takes that you find easy to visualise. It can be an ice cave, breaking surf, a running river, a huge waterfall, rain in a misty mountain. Hear the roar of the cascading water, the trickling sound of the river stream, see the spray of white-water, and smell the humidity in the air.
5. Settle yourself Ė Imagine you are tucked inside a babyís pram. What would it be like to be a tiny baby being taken for a long stroll in the late afternoon sun. Imagine you are being gently rocked as the pram rides over the terrain.
6. Make sure you can relax - Your bedroom should be well ventilated and the temperature on the cool side. Keep a fan, nearby, or other "white noise" device to help block outside noises like street traffic.
7. Remove anxiety triggers - Turn your clock face away so you canít see the time. Your alarm wakes you up in the morning so thereís no need to see how late or early it is. Avoid anything stimulating after 9 pm, like a tension packed movie or reading an email that you know its content is likely to get your wheels spinning.
8. Something warm for your belly - Get up and have a glass of warm milk. Eat turkey as it contains tryptophan. This is a component for making serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which sends signals between nerve cells and generates sleepiness.
9. Keep a regular night-time schedule - Try to go to bed at the same time every day during week days. Donít sleep in for too long on the weekends, it wonít make up your sleep deficit. If you did that for even only a couple of days, this would be enough to reset your body clock and make it hard for you to sleep when you have to.
Any one or all of these remedies will work for you. You donít have to rely on prescription drugs to break the cycle of sleeplessness. If youíre not good at meditation, then these tips are a good alternative. Persistence is important because a bad sleep syndrome thatís become entrenched wonít clear up in one night.
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