I totally 100% completely and utterly understand sleep troubles.
I’ve had those nights where I slept 30 minutes maximum.
My mind ran a million miles an hour with thoughts:
- “Why can’t I fall asleep?”
- “What’s the time now?”
- “Should I check the clock or ignore it?”
- “How many hours of potential sleep left?”
- “Should I get up?”
- “Should I read?”
- “Will I survive tomorrow?”
I literally lost my mind.
I heard the birds start singing at 530 in the morning.
I heard my husband’s not so gentle snore ALL night.
I moved the pillow one thousand times and none of the positions I tried were comfortable.
I PANICKED! I now understand the term cold sweat because I had one!
I have so much empathy for people who have trouble sleeping, for the anxious souls who can’t switch their brains off. When a patient comes into my room and breaks down saying “I haven’t slept properly for ages” – I feel like hugging them and saying “Oh my gosh I know the feeling! You feel like you’re going crazy!” – and sometimes I do just that and I see the patient’s immediate relief!
Sleep hygiene is a massive area in medicine now – and after my recent horrendous night practiced VERY HARD what I preach to my patients. I wound down, I stopped watching TV in the hour before bed and I stopped all caffeine after midday. I started my hour before bed with a warm shower and had a milo – yep adults can drink it too – before I headed upstairs to bed.
Trust me – if you develop a routine – if you do it much the same every night and train your body to expect sleep then sleep quality does improve.
It’s all about preparation. Avoid things that wake your brain up (TV, computer, iPAD) in the hour before bed and if you’re in bed for 30 minutes tossing and turning – get out!!! Go into a chair and read for a bit – don’t just lie there!
Try progressive muscle relaxation – where you squeeze your feet first then relax, then your calves, then your thighs, keep going up each muscle group until you get to the face. Try soothing background noise from an app like sounds of rain or the forest. Try focusing just on your breath in and out – counting a slow 1, 2 for the breath in then the breath out. Try anything that works for you… but whatever you do – DON’T PANIC!