4 tips for a better night’s sleep from an Insomnia Specialist
1. Don't spend too long in bed. The first thing we do when we can't sleep is start going to bed earlier to try and increase our opportunity for sleeping. Reduce the amount of time you spend in bed, go to bed later and get up earlier, this will encourage your body’s natural sleep drive to kick in. By reducing the time you spend in bed you will crave more sleep, fall asleep faster and find the quality will improve.
2. Stop clock-watching. It very tempting to look at the clock every time we wake up to monitor how little sleep we are getting however, this increases the pressure to fall back to sleep and makes it less likely. Set your alarm for the morning then avoid looking at the time again.
3. Don't lie in bed awake. If you can't get to sleep or have woken up in the middle of night, get out of bed. The longer we lie in bed trying to fall back to sleep the more frustrated we get. This, in turn, means we begin to subconsciously relate bed to feeling stressed and being awake rather than asleep. Leave the bedroom and do something relaxing like read a book downstairs, then when you are tired go back to bed.
4. Manage your thoughts. A busy mind is one of the most common culprits in keeping us awake at night so start by writing things down. Make time to list what is on your mind, this can be therapeutic as it is a way of getting things out of your head. You don’t need to solve all of your problems but when they are written in black and white you will get a different perspective on things. Ask yourself, how many of the worries are hypothetical (haven’t yet happened) and how is worrying about them helping you? For example, worrying that tonight you might not sleep only makes it more likely that you won’t. Write down that thought and acknowledge it but then change your focus. If you are following CBT for insomnia techniques then your sleep will improve and so instead try to re-focus on more helpful thoughts.
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Why sleep hygiene is not enough to fix your sleep problem
The ONLY three things you need to know about to manage your sleep
Why CBT-i is the ONLY NHS recommended programme of treatment for poor sleepers and how it helps up to 80% of people improve sleep in under 4 weeks