You’ve been tossing and turning for eternity, you’re exhausted but you can’t fall asleep. Even more frustrating is the more you try to sleep, the more you seem to wake-up.
I’ve struggled with sleep for a long time. Over the years, I’ve learned several tricks that truly help me fall asleep. Here are three to try. I’d love to hear if they work for you and if not, I can send you some more. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first thing I do when I get into bed is take three deep slow breaths. Research by Brene Brown found that one of the things calm people have in common is that they breathe. Duh right? But we never do it. We are always holding out breath.
I learned this technique in my Mind Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class created by Jon Kabat Zinn. It’s a technique that was originally used to help chronic pain patients focus their attention away from their pain. It’s a simple scan of your body but at an extremely slow pace.
First, start with your left pinky toe and then move to the next toe and the next. Then slowly up your foot to your ankle, to your calve, to your knee. When your mind wonders, you gently bring it back to your point of focus. I remind myself that my only task in that moment is to focus on that body part. That is my sole responsibility. The best way to learn the scan is to start listening to the YouTube of John Kabat Zinn talking you through it. There is a 30 minute and a 45 minute option. Once you learn what to do, you can do it yourself of continue having him talk you through it.
30 minute – https://youtu.be/15q-N-_kkrU
45 minute – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4gZgnCy5ew
There is something about listening to male voices before bed that helps us feel calm and fall asleep. I heard it was an evolutionary thing – that back in the hunter-gather days, some of the males would stay up to protect the tribe from lions and tigers. They would be speaking softly around the fire and the rest of the pack would be sleeping around them. We would fall asleep listening to their soft chatter.
The Sleep With Me Podcast is hosted by “Dearest Scooter” Drew Ackerman. Something about his voice is super calming and he tells these ridiculous stories that help you fall into a dreamlike state. I also really like that the podcast was created because of Drew’s battle with childhood insomnia because let’s be honest, when you can’t sleep – you don’t want to feel like you’re the only one. Insomnia is so lonely! Drew will keep you company, relate to your frustration, and tell you a bedtime story to help you fall asleep.
After tossing and turning for what often feels like eternity, you’re going to associate your bed with anxiety. Something I’ve found helpful it to switch your sleeping location. Go into the guest bedroom, the couch, or any other place that’s comfortable enough to sleep without distractions like TV. You do not want to associate your bed with anxiety which is why you’ll often hear that if you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, you should get up and do something else.
Personally, I don’t want to be looking at any sort of clock what-so-ever, and I try my best not to think about time, so if I feel like I’ve been laying in my bed for a while, I’ll get-up and go to another room. I already have that room ready to hop into bed with little effort. This trick often combined with the body scan, works every single time.
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