You’ve got work at 8 am and woke up 3:00 in the morning. You tried all the twist, toss and turns in your bed, to the point you’re already doing it like you are a gymnast pro. What we want is to catch our sleep and return to our beloved dreams, right? Here are things you should do to get back to sleep when you accidentally woke up, and it’s still too early:
Make sure it’s not too bright
If you do get up in the middle of the night, keep the lights low. Avoid using electronic devices like phones or tablets as much as possible. All light distracts sleep, and it makes you feel alerted, which is a thing you don’t want to happen if you are planning to get back to your bed.
Turn your clock to the wall
When you wake up, and it’s still pitch black, refrain yourself from checking the time. Knowing what time is it just takes you out of the sleeping core of the brain and into the more awake calculation core of the brain as you work out how much sleep you are losing. So turn your clock face away from you and just stay on the land of the unknown.
Put your mind and body at ease with some deep-breathing exercises or meditation. Effective techniques while lying down in bed include slow, deep breathing, progressive relaxation (where you visualize one part of your body relaxing then move to the next part), meditation, or focusing on things you are grateful for in your life. Remind yourself that although they’re not a replacement for sleep, rest still help rejuvenate your body.
Limit big movements
Movement activates your body and your brain so try to stay in your sleep position if you don’t need to get up. If you wake up, try to stay fairly still.
Try ‘squeezing’ (a progressive muscle relaxation) – this is tensing and relaxing your muscles in groups for a few seconds. First, tense your muscles, and then relax them. Do this over and over throughout your body. Starting with your feet and working your way up. Begin at the toes, move to the feet, then the calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back and shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, forehead, face and finally, your eyes.
Roll your eyes
Another simple way to promote relaxation and sleep is to close your eyes and slowly roll your eyeballs upwards a few times. The brain shifts from its alert beta state to the relaxed alpha state, when you move your eyes up to an angle of about 20 degrees.
Rub your ears
Calmness and relaxation can be promoted by rubbing the Shen Men acupressure point at the top of the ear. Just use your thumb and forefinger and rub the top of the ear where there is an obvious hollow towards the area closer to your face.
Get up and do something
It’s easy to get frustrated once you can’t get back to sleep within 20 minutes. What you need to do by then – instead of tossing and turning – is to get up and do something relaxing such as reading a book (not electronic) or listening to music.
Go pick up your favorite book and read it beside a dim light. Or pick up your phone or iPod and play soothing music to your ears. I knew some people who could make a rock song their lullaby, so this one depends on your taste in music. Pick a playlist that tickles your ears and gives you one of a kind satisfaction. Be sure to set a timer for your music player – set it to 15 to 30 minutes – and expect to be back to Lalaland in no time. Zzzzz.
If this happens to you almost every day, we suggest that you record your sleep patterns and habits and talk to your General Practitioner about them to see if you can devise a strategy for sleeping better.
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