It's the middle of the night, and you're wide awake. You need to be rested for your big day at work tomorrow. What can you do to get back to sleep?
1. Get Out of Bed
If you wake up and can't get back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, go to another room.
Do something quiet and unexciting, such as listening to soothing music or reading something you've read before.
When you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.
2. Don't Stare at the Clock
Frequently checking the time will only add to your stress when you're trying to get some shut-eye. Try turning the clock away so it's out of your sight line.
3. Keep the Lights Low
Light instantly affects your alertness level. If you get up to go to the bathroom, get a drink, or have a snack, keep the lights low.
If you try to read, use a low-powered reading light. Avoid using backlit screens such as computers, televisions, cell phones, and other devices.
4. Try Relaxation Techniques
Calm your mind and relax your muscles by using a relaxation technique. Some methods you can try:
- Deep breathing, slow and from the diaphragm, mimics the way you breathe during sleep.
- Meditation uses rhythmic breathing plus an image or a repeated phrase to quiet your mind.
- Visualization is a type of meditation that helps you distance yourself from stress by imagining the sights, sounds, and scents of a peaceful place.
- Progressive muscle relaxation involves alternately tensing and relaxing muscles throughout your body, starting with your feet and working your way up.
To learn more about these and other techniques, take a class or use self-guided books or videos. You can also check out online videos or articles.
5. Try Biofeedback
This mind-body technique requires equipment and training from a specialist. It can help you learn ways to control your own levels of tension.
Once mastered, biofeedback training can help you get back to sleep.
6. Keep a Sleep Diary
This isn't something you should do in the middle of the night. But during the daytime, keep a record of your sleep patterns and other habits.
For instance, write down how often you woke up during the night, what disturbed your sleep, and how much caffeine or alcohol you had during the day.
Then take the sleep diary to your doctor. It will help the two of you plan a strategy for getting better sleep.
7. Talk to Your Doctor
Let your doctor know that you're having trouble sleeping, and find out what options -- medication, perhaps -- can help you get a good night's rest.