On many nights, when I am finally laying in bed and ready to go to sleep, I have a challenging time turning off my thoughts. Once I lay down under the covers, I have a sense of relief, an “ah, finally in bed” moment. Then, I find myself tossing and turning, with lots of thoughts crossing my mind. My mind starts to create these to do lists and remind me of things I forgot to do, want to do, I even start writing blog posts in my head (complete blog posts, from open to close), as well as ideas for outfits I want to take pictures of, it seems like an endless list. A few weeks ago, I had been going to sleep late. I tend to be a night person and do most of my writing at night. I am trying to change that habit, but it has been challenging. For a few days, I had been going to sleep really late, like 1:00am or 2:00am, which made me feel tired the next day or pushed back the time I woke up. One one of those nights, I wanted to force myself to go to sleep earlier because the next day I was meeting my friend Lizeth in the morning and we had a full day planned. I was excited and looking forward to seeing her and having a fun day! I wanted to make sure I went to bed on time and got enough sleep, so I would get up early and feel rested the next day.
Going to bed on time was not that hard, I just got organized and did it. The hard part was actually falling asleep. I tossed and turned for about an hour. I tried multiple of my relaxation techniques and nothing seemed to be working. My body’s clock had adjusted to my sleeping schedule from the past few weeks and it seemed was refusing to go to sleep. I tried meditating, breathing techniques, praying, but nothing seemed to help that night. Somehow after a few hours, I fell asleep. The next day, I got up early as planned, but was upset with myself. I was upset that I could not fall asleep and didn’t feel as rested as I wanted to be. I was still excited to spend the day with my friend, but knew I hadn’t gotten eight hours of sleep. Later, as I gave it more thought, I realized that I was being too hard on myself and I wasn’t going to gain anything by being upset. I began to replay the previous night in my head and think of how I could have done something differently. I realized that instead of taking the time I was laying in bed to rest quietly, I had started to make myself feel anxious because I wasn’t falling asleep and that only made the situation worse. Then, I was not only anxious, I was tossing and turning back and forth so not even my body was resting. I said to myself, next time this happens, I am just going to lay in bed quietly, with my eyes closed, and rest. Just lay there, avoiding the tossing and turning. I will be appreciative of the time I have to lay-down. I will realize that at least my body is getting some rest, my mind may still be wandering and too alert to fall asleep, but my body is laying down. I will try to turn off the “to do” list on my mind and instead visualize mountains, an ocean, a peaceful place, and appreciate this time to lay in bed.
The next time I was feeling restless at night, I tried this technique and it worked. We had to catch an early flight and I knew I had to go to sleep early. As I laid down to sleep, I made a conscious effort to remember my own words and advice. This time instead of feeling anxious and upset because I could not go to sleep, I started to take long relaxing breathes and appreciate that my body was getting some rest. I did the visualization exercise with ocean waves, and before I knew it, I fell asleep. I stayed focused on the waves and it only took a few minutes. Next time you have a hard time falling asleep, don’t be hard on yourself or upset, try this technique and think that your body is getting rest, before you know it, you will fall asleep. Hope it works for you as well as it has for me!
Do you follow any relaxation techniques when you have a hard time unwinding after a long or stressful day?
I find meditation to be a wonderful relaxation technique and have been learning how to meditate. In case you’d like to learn more about it, here’s a link to a post I wrote: Learning to Meditate – Clearing My Mind Before Going to Sleep.