Trying to sleep and can’t? Stop trying…

I enjoy helping someone sleep when they’ve been troubled by a lack of sleep for years.   That’s just what I did recently when I helped a lovely woman get a regular good night’s rest.

If you’ve followed all the usual advice of avoiding doing something mentally active beforehand, or consuming too many stimulants or watching a stimulating tv programme, or associating bedtime with work (I could go on) yet still can’t sleep, what else can you do?

Think about what’s happening as you lie there tossing and turning.

Maybe you watch the clock all night, seeing the hours ticking by, constantly battling to get to sleep, worrying that it’s now early morning and you’ll soon have to get up again?   If that sounds like you why not give up the battle?  Instead of trying too hard to sleep, let go.  Tell yourself that time doesn’t matter as you’re resting your body anyway.  Imagine a situation where you had to stay awake but wanted to fall asleep.  Maybe you were in school and supposed to be paying attention to the teacher but the sun was streaming in the window and you just couldn’t stay awake.   Picture a scene like that and try to keep yourself awake instead of battling to sleep.

Maybe you’re a pessimist thinking to yourself,  “I can’t do anything right, what else can go wrong?, I’m not good enough, I can’t even sleep!“   If this is more like you, why not be kinder to yourself?  Think about the positive things that have happened in your day, however small: maybe someone paid you a compliment, maybe they thanked you for something, or you were asked for your opinion, or you helped someone out, maybe something made you laugh or you had a good memory.   Concentrate on the good things that happened and practise saying some positive things such as “something good is bound to happen again tomorrow”.   As you think of the positive things breathe in and think of a colour that you associate with good things and as you breathe out breathe out any of the day’s tensions and whatever colour is represented by that.   Gradually replace the tense colour with the positive colour.

Perhaps you’re more of a problem-solver, lying there figuring out ways to sort things out, your thoughts racing round in circles:  “What do I need to do, what if I do this?  I should have said this, or done that.  What should I do next?  How can I resolve this?”  If that’s you, then start by telling yourself that you will deal with things at a more appropriate time.   Imagine putting all those dilemmas into a box, put the lid on and put it away in your wardrobe or in a drawer, where it can stay until you are ready to deal with those issues at a time when you’re feeling more awake and clear-headed.

You’ve nothing to lose… apart from another night’s sleep?    Sweet dreams everyone!

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