Sleep disruption is a completely normal and healthy response to stressful stimuli in our lives. Insomnia becomes chronic when we can’t break the cycle and this becomes our new routine. Here are some steps you can take to avoid letting that happen:
• What can you do at bed time?
Sometimes interruptions to your daily routine are just unavoidable. And you may have to suffer through a few tired days, but the best thing you can do is remember that this isn’t permanent.
The more you worry about falling asleep the harder it will be to do so. Do a bit of prep work to minimize stress.
Hide your alarm clock so you can’t see what time it is. Charge your phone in another room tonight. Make sure the bedroom is as dark and quiet as you can make it. Think about anything besides falling asleep and let it happen naturally.
• What can you do when you’ve been lying awake in bed for a while?
Get out of the bedroom! Seriously, you’ll just be programming your brain to be more anxious in bed in the future. Go out and do some reading or journaling, or maybe try some meditation or mindfulness practices. Avoid blue lights and exercise as they can just wake you up further. And whatever you do, don’t turn on that TV or computer screen!
• What can tiy do to avoid this in the future?
The next time a difficult day comes up, it’s best to have a backup plan.
First of all, get some extra sunlight during the day — a nice walk will do a lot to help you relax, and the additional sunlight can have a powerful effect on how fast you fall asleep.
Next, expect your evening to be disrupted. Have a backup meal in the freezer so that you can eat at the normal time (later meals can affect the time you fall asleep).
Acknowledge with your partner or family that the day was stressful, and that you want to take time to talk about it once everything has calmed down (trying to vent in the bedroom — which often happens when you haven’t planned on a time to talk about it — brings a negative association to a place that should be restful and impacts your mind’s ability to get quality rest).
Have a backup activity in mind to let go of any anxiety you’re holding on to before bed (like journaling) or if you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes (hypnosis track, guided meditation, or breathing exercises).
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