Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone. One in three Australians report having difficulty sleeping.
Stress, anxiety, certain medical conditions and medications can make falling or staying asleep difficult.
While some external factors may be out of your control, there are a few things you can do to help you sleep.
Hide the clock Are you prone to checking the time during the night? Hide the clock! Constantly checking the time will increase your anxiety levels.
Hide the clock!
Stress and anxiety Before bed write down any worries on a piece of paper and set them aside.
If anxiety takes hold and causes distress, your nervous system may need to be reset to help you calm down. Plunging your face in a bowl of cold water will trigger the ”mammalian dive reflex” an involuntary reflex that lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
Calming activities Doing calming activities such as stretching, acupressure or having a warm shower or bath before bedtime promotes better sleep. Rigorous exercise will have the reverse effect!
The cool air after you step out of a warm shower drops the body temperature quickly, slows the metabolism and prepares your body for sleep
Breathe The “4-7-8” breathing technique is said to help you fall asleep in under a minute.
It relaxes your body, increases the amount of oxygen in your blood stream and slows your heart rate. How?
Place and hold your tongue just behind your upper front teeth.
Exhale completely, making a whoosh sound, through your mouth.
Close your mouth, inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Repeat three more times.
Visualisation Try to visualise a relaxing environment that makes you feel calm and happy e.g. a beach, rainforest or a waterfall. Imagine what it would feel like to be there. Try and feel the warm sand and hear the soothing sounds of the water.
Visualise somewhere relaxing
The alphabet game Choose a topic e.g. fruit and name items alphabetically starting at A to Z. For example A is for apple, B is for banana, C is for custard apple etc.
In the morning try and remember how far down the list you went. The first time I tried it I went to N but last time I only made it to F!
Warm feet Wearing socks or placing a hot water bottle at your feet, widens the blood vessels and increase heat loss in your feet. This draws heat away from the core of your body, helps it cool down, which aids sleep.
Can’t fall or stay asleep? If you don't fall asleep or wake up and can’t get back to sleep within 15 - 20 minutes get out of bed.
Do something relaxing or an activity that requires your hands and your head such as colouring in or doing a puzzle will also help focus your mind.
Go back to bed when you're tired.
Get help Everyone has an occasional sleepless night, but if you frequently have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor.
Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.