Has it ever happened to you to wake up in the middle of the night, happy that it’s only 3 a.m. and that you still have a few hours of quality sleep before you have to get up? But, you can’t fall back to sleep. So what’s your solution? Here are seven strategies you can use to return into dreamland – fast.
1. Use your brain.
If you want to occupy yourself instead of just turning and tossing, forego using your computer, phone, TV or Winter says, “Electronic devices emit light that can keep you up – especially the ones you hold closer to your face, like a mobile device.” Instead, perform a mental exercise: For example, if you are a cyclists you could imagine prepping a bike for a ride, step by step and so on.
2. Turn on as few lights as possible.
On your way to the bathroom, don’t flick every switch. “Light is stimulating because our bodies and brains interpret any light – whether it comes from a lamp or the sun – as a signal to be alert,” says the director of the Martha Jefferson Sleep Medicine Center, Christopher Winter, MD. So you should try to avoid it by only turning on the lights you absolutely need. The best thing to do is finding your way in the dark, but using a small lamp for just a few minutes won’t affect your sleep much. Winter says, “The brighter the light and the longer you’re exposed to it, the more alerting it will be”.
3. Don’t eat anything.
Midnight munching actually hurts your chances of dozing off again, even though you might think having a bite to eat could put you back to sleep, says Winter. In fact, a mid – slumber snack could trigger more sleep interruptions in the future. According to Winter: “You can easily start to condition your body and brain to expect food at that time of night, which can reinforce the habit of waking up”. Go ahead, but only if you absolutely need to nosh, but try to channel your strongest sense of willpower to resist your stomach cravings. It will help to keep from establishing a standing date with your refrigerator.
4. Read to make your eyes tired.
Do you remember the time when you were fighting to stay awake during reading assignments in school? Enforce a trick from college: If you’re struggling to fall back asleep, thumb through a nearby magazine or book, suggests Winter. But try to avoid an exciting thriller that gets your heart pumping – instead of sedate it will stimulate you. Again, make sure to keep your light exposure to a minimum. Winter recommends one of those small reading light that attaches to your book.
5. Stay on your back.
Or your side or stomach – whichever position you prefer. Just don’t keep turning If you sit or stand up straight for long periods of time, as a reason to stay awake your body is more likely to interpret that, suggests Winter. Make sure you’re lying down, if you’re going to keep yourself busy while you’re up.
6. Don’t make up the sleep you missed.
It’s important not to sleep in or take a nap the next day, if you’re extra tired after falling short on rest. Winter says: “You essentially want to penalize your brain to avoid this happening regularly”. If you indulge yourself in a long mid – afternoon siesta or a few extra hits of the snooze button, you’re just creating a template for your body and brain to stay awake in the middle of the night.
7. Try progressive relaxation.
This technique was developed by physicians in order to reduce muscle tension by focusing on releasing one specific muscle group at a time. “With relaxing your body you can also relax your mind,” says Winter. Holding tension in your muscles signals to your brain that it needs to stay Consciously reducing stress in your muscles, on the other hand, signals that it’s time to fall asleep. Taking deep, long breaths, begin with your largest muscles groups – like your back and thighs – and slowly work go to smaller muscles in your face and hands.