How to Get to Sleep - When You're Struggling
Struggling to Sleep?
Whether you're stressed, sick, or just inexplicably struggling to get to sleep at night, here are some natural solutions that can help you get those much needed 8+ hours a night.
What's the Problem?
Knowing why you're struggling to sleep can help find the correct response.
If you're struggling to sleep due to chronic pain, depressive or anxious thoughts, other mental health issues, or your life is being seriously impacted by your lack of sleep then you need to see a doctor to treat the issue at its' source.
If you are properly addressing your health concerns with medication and/or the appropriate treatment and still need a little assistance, or are just having a little trouble winding down at the end of the day then you might like to try some of the solutions below!
First Things First
Before you try anything drastic, check first that you are doing some basic things to help yourself:
- Is your linen clean and your bed made? If you're uncomfortable to start with, you're not setting yourself up for success
- Is your pillow the appropriate height for you? If you're struggling to sleep - spend the extra $20 and get a nice pillow. It can make a world of difference.
- Do you wear pyjamas to bed? If you do, try sleeping naked - it's better for you.
- Are you making sure you stop using technology AT LEAST 30 minutes before attempting to sleep? Staring at your phone or computer screen right up until you close your eyes is only going to keep your thoughts racing longer. Shut it off, dim the lights - ease your body and mind into the sleep process.
- Are you getting enough exercise? If the gym or serious activity sounds like too much, just take a 20 minute stroll after dinner - some thing is better than nothing, and exerting some physical energy will help you get to sleep quicker.
- Are you drinking too much alcohol? Alcohol is known to disrupt deep sleep or delta wave brain activity, meaning that you may struggle to both fall asleep and achieve deep sleep. Cut back on your alcohol intake and see if it helps.
- Do you have a 'going to bed' ritual? It's hard to get to sleep if you just suddenly lie down, shut your eyes, and hope for the best. Start some basic habits - have a hot drink, brush your teeth, put your dressing gown on, and seriously turn those screens off. Start winding down for 30-60 minutes before you actually get into bed.
Getting to Deep Sleep
If you're covering the basics and still struggling to doze off, or struggling to stay asleep, then there are some more natural solutions that might help you out.
Delta Waves are the brain wave form associated with deep restorative sleep.
By using sound that replicates the oscillation and frequency of these wave forms, we can encourage the brain to enter deep sleep.
If you google 'Delta Waves Sleep Music' you'll find plenty of youtube and soundcloud links to music that is supposed to help you both fall asleep and achieve better deep sleep.
Playing some of these tracks softly is my absolute favourite way to get to sleep when I am struggling. But, let's be honest, knowing that the relaxing effect of these tracks is backed by a scientific theory is wonderful, but all you really need to know is that it can work. I, and many others, swear by the wonderful effect of Delta Wave music for sleep.
Here's a track from my favourite Delta Wave youtube channel to start you off:
Another wonderful way to help yourself switch off is with some basic focused sleep meditation.
If you've done your basic 'going to bed' routine, you've switched off your screens, and you're lying in a comfortable bed (perhaps playing some Delta Wave music), then you can help yourself further with what I like to call 'Sleep Meditation'.
It's a little activity which allows your mind to focus on the task of relaxing - distracting you from any stress or thoughts that might otherwise be keeping you awake, and allowing you to focus on relieving the tension your body has accumulated throughout the day.
Here's a quick how-to on this little activity that I've found helpful:
- Start by lying in a comfortable position, or the position you usually sleep in. (I often wake up on my stomach, so have found going to sleep in this position to start with to be helpful)
- Close your eyes and take some deep slow breaths - breathe in for 5, hold for 5, and release for 5. Focus just on the counting and the breathing for at least a minute. Feel your body start to relax.
- Once you feel your breathing is steady, deep, and slow, begin to relax each part of your body in turn.
- Start at your toes. Focus your energy, gently, to your toes and release any tension in them. Keep your focus on them until they feel totally relaxed.
- Shift your attention to your feet. Remember to breath deeply and slowly, and focus your gentle energy on relaxing your feet and releasing tension in them. Spend as much time as you need to here - focusing on any particular tension points.
- Slowly make your way your body, piece by piece. You're not in a rush. Just keep breathing slowly and gently releasing the tension you are holding in each body part.
- Find yourself sleeping before you reach the top. I usually find I drop off before I can do every single body part. But if you're still awake;
- Don't stress. Keep breathing deeply and relaxing your body. This state is still more restorative and helpful for your energy levels than a stressed state.
BONUS STEP: I like the above exercise because it doesn't require any visualising or spiritual content which might deter a more scientific mind. But if you're not deterred by a little basic visualisation you can add a little into this exercise if you're still awake at the end of the above steps:
9. Reflecting inwards, imagine a small ball of light and energy in your core. See it - what colour is it? The ball is warm and it attracts more threads of light and energy to it. Watch it grow slowly bigger. Invite all the energy in your body and surrounds to join it - draw it in. Here it is transformed to healing, relaxing, warm light. Slowly grow your ball of healing light inside you. Let it get gradually bigger, until it expands outside of you, covering you and your bed in a healing, relaxing, gentle warmth.
Food and Drink to Help You Sleep
If nothing else is helping, maybe a diet change is in order.
Try adding some of the above food and drinks to your diet - either throughout the day or in the hour or two before bedtime.
What Has Helped You Sleep Better?
The above are all things that have helped me personally battle my own sleep issues
Let me know in the poll or comments below what you find most helpful in getting to sleep!