When Sleep Won’t Come

 Do you ever lie awake in bed, wanting to sleep, but your mind just won’t shut off?
What’s frustrating about this situation is that I know I need to have good, restful sleep every night.  When I don’t fall asleep in a timely way, and then I find myself tossing and turning, anxiety kicks in with thoughts like, “Oh, no, I’m still awake.”  “I need to be asleep.”  “I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow.”  “I need the rest……damn it!”  So much for the relaxed state of being which will help me to drift into peaceful slumber.
Falling asleep fairly quickly isn’t a problem for me any more….most of the time, that is.  Over the years I guess that I’ve developed some night time rituals that serve me well. First, here are some questions to pose as to the reason for sleep resistance.
 Were you racing around all day and haven’t had a moment of down time? 
Journal – food, exercise, 3 blessings
Our minds needs time to process the day and relax before we head for the bed.
Try building in one hour of down time with no technology before you go to sleep. Develop a ritual that you enjoy. Read a book, spend time with loved ones, straighten up or prepare for the next day. I usually journal my food and exercise for the day, and add on three blessings, or things to be grateful for during the day. The reflection does me good, and there are other rituals that can be developed as well.
Did you have caffeine or an energy drink in the afternoon?
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a warm drink, even if it’s just plain water, to flush your body, as you help it to relax. Better yet, in the future, try not having caffeine or energy drinks after 11 am, or skip them all together.  Stimulants are stimulants, and as such are counter to relaxation that we need for good sleep.
Are you stressed about all you have to do tomorrow?
Stressed?  Problem Solving?
Worry that may not have even surfaced to consciousness can sometimes produce just enough stress to keep us tense enough to prevent easy sleep.  One antidote for this problem is to keep a pad of paper near your bed, and write a list of all the things that have to be taken care of. Rank ordering their importance takes power from them and gives it to you, so you can leave them and go to sleep, knowing that all will be tended to in due time. A mind at ease is one that can rest. 
Are you problem solving a situation, rehashing possible solutions to no avail?
Whatever it is, we can’t do anything about it in the middle of the night, even though we think we’re thinking it through fairly clearly.   Preparing or rehearsing for a conversation or an event may or may not be helpful in the actual situation when it occurs. The best thing we can do is be presentand open, and for that, we need sleep. And that part about rehashing a past event? None of it will change.  It is what it is.  It’s best if we just accept it, let it go, and let it float right out of our mind.
Tense mind+tense emotions=tense mucscles
Techniques that help
At the top of this list is deep, controlled steady breathing. Start by taking two or there deep cleansing  breaths.  Then breathe in for a count of eight, breathe out for a count of eight.  Try that for four rounds and see if you aren’t considerably more relaxed.  If not, do another cycle. 
When my own system is being more stubborn, and the deep  breathing doesn’t do the trick, I get up, get a glass of warm water,and then do 5 minutes of gentle stretching.  If I am emothionally and/or mentally tense, my muscles are tense as well.  Stretching all sorts of  muscle groups, including some gentle twists, along with some more deep breathing, has never failed me, even when sleep has been very difficult in coming.

I think that I’m not alone in occasionally struggling with getting to sleep easily.  I’d love to hear some of your best remedies.  Do share.  We can all benefit!


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