What happens when you lay your head down on your pillow each night? Do you struggle to fall asleep, tossing and turning in your bed and wondering what could be preventing you from sleeping? Perhaps you get up several times each night, feeling wide awake. Or maybe the slightest noise rouses you, to the point where you feel as though you’re not actually getting rest. Don’t you wish you could close your eyes and fall into a blissful sleep quickly all night long, then wake up feeling well-rested and rejuvenated in the morning? If you need help sleeping, you’re not alone.
Insomnia is a big problem in today’s society and it can occur for a short period of time (acute) or in repeated episodes throughout your life (chronic). Surprisingly enough, not being able to get sleep has nothing to do with whether or not you’re tired. In fact, insomnia can occur for no reason at all or it can result from mental and physical health problems such as:
• Substance use/abuse
Life events can also have a profound impact on your body’s ability to get rest. Significant stressors including job loss, the breakup of a significant relationship, death, or even pressure to perform at college or in a job can cause acute insomnia, which can develop into a more serious, long-term problem if it persists for longer than three weeks. The cycle of insomnia is debilitating, often resulting in extreme fatigue during the day, as well as irritability, frustration, and mental disorganization when sleep does not come. The problem comes full circle when you feel additional stress in knowing that you won’t be able to fully rest.
Your mind can sometimes be the most significant roadblock in the way of your getting sleep. When your mind is stuck in this pattern of worry and anxiety, or over thinking, your body stops producing the hormones you need to rest and focuses instead on promoting hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which serve to keep you awake.
If you want to learn to overcome your brain’s natural response to stress in order to ensure a better night’s rest, you need to learn how to fully quiet your mind. This can be achieved through the practice of Stillness-centered meditation. When you strive for mental Stillness, you learn how to effectively filter out the many defeating or anxiety-inducing thoughts that enter your brain. You’re able to rise above to a level of calm that is blissful, and when you lie your head down on your pillow you’ll fall asleep within minutes.
Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Achieving adequate rest can be a difficult. If you need help sleeping the following tips can help you to get to sleep and stay asleep on a nightly basis.
• Keep a regular sleep schedule. Your body will naturally gravitate towards a regular cycle of between 6-9 hours of sleep per night. If you go to bed around the same time each night and set your alarm for the same time each morning you’re more likely to feel tired when it’s time to sleep and awake when it’s time to wake up. I’d recommend Getting to bed by 9.30pm, reading for 30 mins and then lights out by 10pm.
• Get enough exercise. Spending all day on a computer or sitting can leave you feeling restless and prevent you from getting sleep. When your body feels tired, you’re more likely to feel ready to rest – just remember not to exercise before bed.
• Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine doesn’t take away tiredness; it prevents you from sleeping. When you drink coffee or another type of caffeinated beverage, your body cannot shut down – you’re forced to remain awake. This means that you may very well still feel tired, but you’re not sleepy. People who claim that they can’t start their day without one or two cups of coffee are biologically addicted to the effects of caffeine. When they don’t get their fix they experience withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue. Caffeine has also been found to reduce sleep quality, making a person more tired in the long run.
• Reduce Technology. It’s hard to separate us from our phones and computers these days. It’s almost they have become an extra limb. However the use of technology especially prior to sleep time will have a stimulating effect on your nervous system and prevent a good night sleep. Shutting down the phones, computers and turning off the wifi around 9.30pm will improve your sleep.
• Practice Stillness. If you need help sleeping, the most significant thing you can do for yourself is learn how to actively quiet your mind. Stillness Sessions or meditation can enable you to overcome whatever stress you may be experiencing by calming your thoughts. When your mind gravitates away from worry, stress, and anxiety, you can experience the bodily restoration that only sleep can give you.
All these tips are spelt out in my book Faster Deeper Sleep which you can get sent straight to your email by clicking here.