Beat insomnia and get back to sleep
When most people think of insomnia, they tend to think of not being able to get to sleep. In some cases, this is true – however for others the problem isn’t getting to sleep, it’s staying asleep.
Some insomnia sufferers wake multiple times during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep. Dr Nerina Ramlakhan (sleep and energy therapist at London’s Nightingale Hospital) says waking during the night is normal:
“It’s perfectly normal for us to wake up – usually between the hours of 2 to 4am. The important thing is not to fret about it when you do wake – if you don’t worry, then it can be easy to get back to sleep.”
If your waking habits are becoming a problem, try the following techniques to help you fall back to sleep.
Turn your clock away
If you check the time when you wake up you will instantly start worrying about how much sleep you’re getting, taking you well and truly out of your sleep cycle. Instead keep your clock faced away from you and resist the urge to check it.
Get out of bed
Lying in bed tossing and turning will make you feel frustrated. After a while, your brain will link the two and will signal your body to be alert when you get to bed. Sidestep this connection by getting up and out of bed if you can’t get back to sleep after 15 minutes or more during the night.
Sit on a chair in a dark room and listen to soothing music or read a book. When you feel sleepy again, go back to bed. This will encourage the brain to link your bed with sleepiness – a much more positive connection.
Keep the lights off
The body releases the sleep hormone melatonin when we’re in a dark environment. Ensure you turn off all the lights in your bedroom and avoid looking at your phone or tablet when you can’t sleep – this will only wake you up more.
Roll your eyes
Research suggests rolling your eyes up to a 20-degree angle can shift the brain into a relaxed alpha state which slows brain waves and helps you to drift off to sleep. Try closing your eyes and rolling them upwards slowly a couple of times.
Try progressive muscle relaxation
Movements like tossing and turning will signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Keep fairly still when you wake up and try tensing and relaxing your muscles in groups for a few seconds. Start at your toes and work up to your head.
Create a sleep signal
When you feel relaxed and about to fall asleep give yourself a ‘sleep signal’. This could be something as simple as gently stroking your earlobe. Your body will interpret this as a sign that you’re sleepy, so if you do this when you wake in the night it should signal to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
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