It can be frustrating when you find yourself waking up in the night for no apparent reason. Middle-of-the-night insomnia can be a passing phase depending on what’s going on in your life – stress, hormonal changes, dieting, health conditions, new sleeping environment, etc. – but there are some things you can try to beat it.
Here are some dos and don’ts to getting back to sleep if you wake up in the night.
- Box breathing – Inhale slowly for 7 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale slowly for 7 seconds then hold for 7 seconds. Repeat. The number of seconds doesn’t matter as much as the pattern. Do this for a couple of minutes. You might need to repeat the sequence a little later but in general, it can be a very helpful way of switching off thoughts and relaxing your mind and body.
- Daydream – It may sound counterintuitive but since you’re awake anyway, use the time for a little indulgent ‘daydreaming’. In other words, instead of focusing on what’s worrying you, plan a cruise, imagine your special love coming into your life, picture your dream home or envisage cuddling the baby you want.
- Utilise sleep essential oils – Spritz a little Pillow Spray on your pyjamas, pillow case and the tops of your sheets or massage a little Sleep Night Oil on your temples or the soles of your feet. Our products are all-natural, pure essential oils.
- Put on some helpful ‘noise’ – White noise can be helpful when trying to fall asleep. You could turn your fan on and try to lose yourself in the rhythm, listen to some soft music without lyrics or put on a podcast that’s not too booming with energy. Focusing on sounds can stop you from ruminating.
- Read a proper book – Avoid electronic devices due to the blue light. Put on a soft, yellow-hued light and pick up a book. Reading is a good form of escapism and can help your brain wind down.
- Visualise a tranquil scene – Put yourself in an imaginary environment where you are completely safe, free from harm or discomfort and totally at peace. It could be under a tree in a wide open field of gently blowing grass with soft sunlight dappling through the branches. Imagine the feint, cool breeze on your skin and the sound of leaves rustling. Picture what you’re wearing or being totally naked, knowing that nothing can harm you … not itchy skin from the grass, not UV rays from the sun, nothing. Just you, nature, peace and calm.
- Don’t look at the clock – This will only remind you what time you woke up and how long it’s taking you to get back to sleep.
- Don’t exercise – Some think that doing a few bicep curls or getting on the exercise bike in the middle of the night will wear them out. What it actually does is tells your body it’s ‘go time’ so it will be even harder to fall asleep afterwards.
- Don’t drink alcohol or consume caffeine or cigarettes – Keep stimulants out of the picture or you’ll unwittingly stay awake for even longer.
- Don’t stay in bed if you’re restless – Thrashing about in bed makes your bed the enemy. Get up and go outside on your balcony or front step and embrace the quiet darkness. Look at the stars, be mindful of any sensations such as warm air, cool breezes, nocturnal bird sounds and aromas of night jasmine and when you feel sufficiently relaxed, go back to bed.
Above all, try to remember that most people experience night-time insomnia now and then. It’s likely to be a temporary phase but if it continues for more than a week or two, see your health professional.