Help me Sleep!
Continuing our series on answering your questions. What to do to when your thoughts are keeping you awake.
I can’t get to sleep at night because as soon as I turn off the light and lay my head down my thoughts start to race. They jump from paying bills to work to who is going to drive the kids to soccer and even what to have for dinner tomorrow. I need sleep, I’m so tired. What can I do?
Thank you for your question and I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble sleeping. The quality and quantity of sleep we get daily affects every part of us including our mental, emotional and physical capabilities. It is common to have thoughts that we’ve kept at bay by our busy lives to come tumbling in at night when we can slow down and think. Here are some tips to helping you sleep.
Alert your brain that it is time for sleep. We do this subconsciously during our day as we transition between different activities for instance when you arrive at work you automatically go into work mode. Here are ways to tell your brain its time to sleep:
1. Practice regular sleep patterns by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
2. Use your bed for sleep and romance only (no tv, work or electronics use in your bed).
3. Create a relaxing environment by eliminating clutter.
4. Build a relaxing routine 60 minutes before bed by using soft lights, listening to gentle music, lighting scented candles, taking a relaxing bubble bath or doing some gentle exercise.
5. Create total darkness and quiet when you sleep.
Changing the environment to allow your brain to relax often cures the restless nights but when it is our thoughts keeping us awake we need to take steps to control our thoughts:
1. Set up a worry time during the day. Often bedtime is the only quiet time we have to think through the things of our lives. Your thoughts are important so give them respect by creating time for them. Set aside up to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to think through them at least an hour before bed. While you are thinking about them, ask yourself, if the problem is solvable. If it is, start brainstorming ideas and then make a doable plan.
2. Write your worries down. If you still have thoughts swirling when you are finished your worry time, write them down so your brain does not have to remember them. This will free up your mind to move into a deep and restful sleep.
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