The next time you’re awake in the wee hours of the morning staring at the ceiling, follow these steps.
The only thing worse than having too much energy at 11 p.m., when you should be ready to go to sleep, is being wide awake at 3 a.m. The only thing worse than having too much energy at 11 p.m. When you should be ready to go to sleep, is being wide awake at 3 a.m.
The blessing of falling asleep at a decent hour isn’t much consolation if your brain wakes up too early and refuses to take advantage of those eight hours of sleep. I toss and turn and rearrange my pillow every which way, exasperated and obsessed at the impending doom that my alarm clock alarm will start going off at six in the morning.
Nearly half of all people living with insomnia experience this specific type called “sleep maintenance” insomnia, which is waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes even combined with “sleep reconciliation” insomnia, which is having difficulty falling asleep.
If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you leave the room and do some reading or other quiet activity.
Get up only when you’re so restless that you’re not going to be able to fall asleep anyway. Some of the best first-instance strategies should be done (more or less) lying down. The next time you’re awake at 3 a.m. staring at the ceiling, follow these steps:
Stay in bed
For you to fall asleep, your heart rate must slow down, said a doctor of clinical psychology specializing in sleep who works in the Los Angeles area. When you get out of bed, you speed it up.
Don’t eat food in the wee hours of the morning either, unless you have diabetes or hypoglycemia.
To keep your body from waking you up at inopportune times, stay hydrated during the day so that you don’t drink too much before bedtime and go to bed with a full bladder. Do not eat too much or too little at dinner, and make it a balanced meal with protein and fibre, which help keep your blood sugar levels stable until morning.
The most important thing is to avoid alcohol at night because, although it does help you fall asleep faster, it also affects your quality of sleep during the night.
Stay in the dark
When you can’t sleep, LED indicator lights from printers or cable TV boxes are intrusive, as is light coming through the openings between curtains.
“They’re focal points of light that attract your gaze, and that can keep you from falling asleep,” explained a professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia who studies circadian rhythms, the brain’s internal sleep-wake cycle.
Hanifin covers the indicator lights with black insulating tape and wears a sleep mask. Of course: avoid looking at your phone and turning on the light. If the light coming from your window is keeping you awake, it may be worth installing blinds that block the light.
Block out noise
Your surroundings don’t have to be entirely silent for you to fall asleep, but the noises you perceive do need to be monotonous, as this sends a signal to your brain that it’s safe to fall asleep. That’s why noisy radiators and dripping faucets keep you awake, even if you barely notice them during the day.
Control the temperature
If the room feels too warm, turn down the thermostat; about 18 degrees Celsius is good for sleep. Another part of the equation that leads to sleep is skin temperature.
A cool core body temperature and pleasantly warm epidermis are best for sleep. So you lower your core temperature by breathing in the cool room air while your skin is kept warm by blankets and pyjamas.
Feet have many temperature sensors. When they’re warm, that information is transmitted to brain areas responsible for both sleep and thermoregulation that help you doze off.
Based on some research, individuals wearing socks took half as long to fall asleep as people without socks. If temperature control is a constant problem, a smart thermostat allows you to raise or lower the temperature from the comfort of your bed using voice commands (or your cell phone if there’s no other way). Plus, you can set it to do it automatically at certain times of the night.
Silence your mind
Rethinking past events or worrying too much can cause an increase in stress-related chemicals, which, in turn, causes your heart rate to speed up and your core temperature to rise. It also turns on the regions of the brain responsible for memory and emotions when they should be calm.
Give some relaxation techniques a try: deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness exercises. “Whatever you like best and works for you is fine.”The point is to distract your brain with something that doesn’t require effort or elicit emotional responses.”
If you have to wake up at 6:30 and the clock tells you it’s 3 a.m., don’t think, “Oh, no, I only have three hours left!” Negativity only provokes a stress response that keeps you awake. Instead, say, “Excellent, I still have three hours to sleep!”.
Also, remind yourself that even though you slept more minor than you wanted to, many people do well when they sleep fewer hours, and you’ll do well, too. But, if you get insomnia more than three times a week for more than three months and it’s affecting your quality of life, seek out a sleep specialist to help you identify the actual cause and create a plan that’s right for you.