Help Yourself Fall Asleep (Faster!) With This Simple Tactic
Have you ever gotten stuck in a vicious cycle of staying up too late, getting over tired, not sleeping well, and then having a short temper and low energy the next day... rinse and repeat? I definitely have.
At the end of the day, your body feels slow, but your mind is racing. In the moment, you don't feel very tired (though it's likely the over-tired hormone rush causing a false sense of energy).
We've all been there. Looking at the clock and counting the number of hours left to sleep. Which sets our minds racing even more...
When it's been a couple nights of this frustrating loop, I use this tactic to get back into a healthy sleep rhythm.
Try this 2 part approach:
This exercise is a type of meditation without needing to "think" about anything too deep. It helps your nervous system reset, and can even improve lymphatic drainage to release toxins that build up when we are stressed.
Instead of obsessing over the few remaining hours of slumber, really lean into the feeling of being sleepy.
Imagine how you feel in the early morning hours, when you're snug in your warm comfortable bed, deep in sleep, dreaming a great dream, with soft, rhythmic breathing.
Imagine how sleepy you feel when the alarm goes off, and you KNOW you could easily sleep for 2 more hours if you didn't have to get up? Relish in the fact that you do still have hours ahead of you! Take some slow, deep breaths with your eyes closed.
Start a practice of progressive muscle relaxation.
Start at your toes, and work your way up. There is no "right way" to do this, so make it your own - there's certainly no need to stress over it!
Wiggle your toes, stretch them out, curl them under, and then with a deep breath, release and relax them. Pause in this state of relaxation for at least 1 minute.
Move on to your ankles - move your feet side to side, roll them around, point and flex your feet and toes. With a deep breath, release and relax for 1 minute.
Now the calves. Point and flex your feet again, several times. You guessed it - deep breath and then relax for another minute.
Work your way up your body, focusing on large muscle groups and limbs. (Thighs, glutes, stomach muscles, fingers, upper arms, shoulders, neck)
If you're one of the few people who can wiggle their ears, you can even work that in.
Open your jaw wide and then relax. Scrunch up your face and release.
(I hold a lot of tension in my neck, jaw and face, so like to save this part for last)
After each group, take a deep breath, or two, and focus on the feeling of relaxation. If your mind begins to drift to a place of anxiety or a growing to-do list, re-focus on the current body part.
If you haven't fallen asleep by the time you get to the top of your head, take a slow breath, that you can feel deep into your belly, hold for three seconds, exhale slowly and completely. Repeat three times, and then do the progressive muscle relaxation again. The important part is to focus only on the meditation, not on the fact that you're still not asleep. Meditation has been shown to provide some of the same restorative benefits as sleep, so rest assured (like what I did there?) you're still doing something good for yourself!
The next morning and throughout the day, drink lots of water, get bright sunlight early in the morning, and try to head to bed even 15 minutes earlier that evening.
I hope if you ever find yourself in a cycle of misalignment and fatigue, you can lean on this simple practice to help you get back into a healthy sleep rhythm!
In all ProActive Wellness Coaching programs, I aim to meet every client where they are, with compassion, empathy and understanding (and a healthy dose of humor and realism). Because I've been there! If you are ready to take control of your health, please reach out, and we can figure out how we can best work together!