Can't sleep? Anxiously awakening in the middle of the night?
Nighttime anxiety can happen at any time, with the smallest thing triggering it — and once it starts, it can be the beginning of a maddening cycle. When no amount of calming self-talk helps ease your anxious mind, here are three soothing strategies I’ve personally used and can vouch for,
as they helped me turn around months of surviving on no more than 5 to 6 hours of sleep...and put the torturous zombie-like feeling behind me.
1. Plan For Sleep Like You Plan for a Date
Set a get-ready time. Put it on your calendar. Honor that time and help yourself get in the mood, just as you would if you were prepping for a date. Use a calendar reminder or a phone alarm to remind you to start winding down an hour and a half before bedtime. Light some candles, diffuse some essential oils, brew your favorite tea and slip into something silky that signals bedtime. Reframe sleep as something to look forward to – not as something you keep putting off because you have too many things to do.
I’ve found that when I take the time to unwind and prepare for sleep, my mind has time to slow down and I’m less likely to find it difficult to get to sleep and/or stay asleep. Extra tip:
I’ve also had great results supplementing with the herb valerian
. Grab some as a tincture and place a few drops in water an hour before bedtime.
Also by Emma Bathie on Z Living: Your Energy Makes The World A Better Place—Here's How
2. Try This 10-Second Relaxation Trick
If you have trouble getting to sleep, try this as you get into bed. If, like me, you have a “witching hour” where you find yourself waking at the same time in the early hours before dawn, this breathing exercise might just be the trick you need to let go and get back to la-la-land.
This technique comes from the work of Steve Pavilanis
, and it involves breathing in, muscle tensing, and relaxing:
1) Take a deep breath in, filling your lungs deeply and hold it.
2) While you’re holding your breath, aim to tense every single muscle in your body, from the tips of your toes, legs, up through your midsection, chest, neck, face, scalp, arms, hands, and fingers.
3) Hold this “body squeeze”, while holding your breath, for 5-10 seconds.
4) Then let go, relaxing every muscle in your body, while slowly exhaling.
Also by Emma Bathie on Z Living: How To Turn The Direction Of Your Life Around, Fast
3. Pop On A Guided Meditation Video
If you’ve woken in the middle of the night, tried the breathing technique, and still feel your mind twisting and turning in uncomfortable directions, a guided meditation may be the thing to shake any stranglehold thoughts and get you back to sleep. My current favorite is Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Meditation
, a 20 minute meditation in which he guides you through six stages of comforting and empowering thoughts. Or, try one of Deepak Chopra’s sleep meditations
freely available on YouTube.
While I’m absolutely not a fan of having a smart phone next to the bed, if you want to try this technique, download the meditations onto your device and then ensure it’s kept on flight-mode and within grabbing distance of your pillow. This will keep physical movement to a minimum as you soothe yourself back to sleep with this strategy.
Also by Emma Bathie on Z Living: The 1 Mental Tool You Need To Achieve Your Goals
And When None of the Above Soothing Remedies Has Worked…
...and you’re still
anxiously lying awake, the next strategy is to simply get-up.
Wrap yourself in something warm, grab your favorite book (not on your Kindle), turn on a soft light and read for a little while. Getting out of your sleeping space and redirecting your mind to your favorite book acts as a circuit breaker to the anxious-thoughts-cycle. Just promise me you won’t think of this as a time to go check emails or sneak onto Facebook or Instagram. Electronic device light messes with your circadian rhythm, and connecting with social media in the wee hours of the morning has the potential to mess with your mind even more.
Also by Emma Bathie on Z Living: You Should Keep An Evidence Journal—Not A Gratitude List
Remember, the quality of your sleep has a direct impact on how you feel and the impact you have in the world, as well as the number of your dreams you can make a reality.
If you have another soothing sleep tip to ease middle-of-the-night anxieties please let us know in the comments below. It could be just the thing that helps someone else get the sleep they need.
Emma Bathie is a Soul Happiness Coach. Learn more about her work and how to create more of life's magic here.