Do you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep? Perhaps you’ve been staring at the clock, willing time to pass by. It can be terribly frustrating, lying in bed and praying to catch just a few hours before work the next day. I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, insomnia is pretty prevalent, with over 40% of Singaporeans facing this problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the main reason behind this because our body clocks aren’t aligned with our natural sleep cycles. However, there are often other factors that contribute to insomnia like stress, overstimulation, and caffeine, lights in the bedroom, digestive issues or aches. Whatever the reason, I’m sure we can all agree insomnia is an annoying problem to have. So, for anyone out there who’s mastered the art of counting sheep, we’ve put together a few tips for finally catching some shuteye when you can’t sleep.
1. Positive Thoughts
Simply clearing your mind of negative thoughts like “What’s the point of sleeping with just a few hours left?” or “I’m going to be exhausted at work tomorrow.” Can calm you down and increase the likelihood you’re gonna fall asleep. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right?
2. Focus on One Thing
Focusing on something specific is another easy way to get sleepy. For example, focus on your breathing or some repeating some calming phrases in your mind could help you unwind and catch some Z’s.
3. Try the 4-7-8 Exercise
According to Harvard Medical School, focusing on your breathing decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, which is ideal for causing sleepiness.
The exercise goes like this:
- Inhale for four seconds
- Inhale for four seconds
- Exhale for eight seconds
4. White Noise
At times, what’s keeping you up could be because of the insufferable silence is—so, try listening to white noise. There are a bunch of free white noise apps out there so next time you’re awake, simply turn on the app and fill your room with sounds of gentle waves or the soft pitter-patter of rain.
Download a meditation app like Calm, or a try out some mindfulness techniques to soothe your worries and calm your thoughts.
This is great for my lazy comrades because it’s something you can do without leaving your bed! You can Bridge the gap between you and sleep. Simply lie on your back with your knees bent and lift up your hips. You could also try the famous child’s pose to relax your body and help you fall asleep!
Nope, I’m not talking about using your iPad or smartphone, but with an old-fashioned, pages you can touch kind of book. Dim the lights in your room just enough so you can see comfortably, and read till you feel your eyelids drooping. Don’t focus on reaching a certain page or the contents of the story.
8. Cut Caffeine
If you’re a coffee addict like me, cutting out caffeine is an impossible request. Instead, try to reduce your caffeine intake. Perhaps have it before noon and try alternatives like peppermint tea.
9. Cover Your Eyes
Even if your room’s pretty dark, there’s probably some light that makes its way in. Personally, I use an eye mask because it’s more convenient, preferably a soft and non-scratchy one like a silk eye mask but it’s fine if you don’t have one. Instead, you can grab a warm cloth or even a t-shirt, sprinkle some water and microwave it for a couple of seconds to cover your eyes to block out all the light.
If your head is jumbled up with thoughts, worries or whatever, just take a notebook (if you’re a stationary junkie like me, you probably have tons of nice notebooks that you can’t bear to use. Now’s the chance to use them before they turn yellow) and scribble what you’re thinking. Don’t bother with fancy shmancy lettering or making it like those bullet journal, just get everything out until you’re out of stuff to write and begin to tire.
If you’re reading this at 2am in the morning, hopefully these tips will have you snoozing away soon. For those insomniacs out there, next time you have trouble falling asleep, try out these methods. If you guys have tips that work for you, help out an insomniac in need and share them!