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Five Great Tips to Sleep When You Can’t

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sleeping-woman-1935Ever wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Or maybe you just can’t get to sleep to begin with?

Me too. Lots.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a good sleeper. I toss and turn, ruminate, think about what I wish I’d done instead of what I did do, and plan on how I’ll do things differently next time around, and next time around I wonder why didn’t follow the plan I cooked up at 2:00 a.m. last time around.

It’s a vicious sleepless circle that’s been my own personal midnight merry-go-round since I was in my teens.

In fact, when I was 16, I got mononucleosis (otherwise known as the “kissing disease” for the way it is spread), and I was pretty much exhausted for an entire year. Insomnia exacerbated the illness: it stopped me from getting the rest I so desperately needed.

My doc prescribed Valium, which I took for several months, and to which I began to become addicted. It amazes me to this day that a doctor would prescribe Valium to a teenager who had minor sleep problems.

Thankfully, I eventually got over both the mono and the Valium, but my sleep issue stuck with me like a hard-to-break habit, for which I’ve since developed better management strategies.

Here are my five best “natural” tips for getting to sleep when you think you can’t:

1) Tense & relax

This works for me almost every time. Tighten/tense as much as you can (for about five seconds) then relax/release (also for about five seconds) the individual muscles in your body one after the other, starting with your toes, and working your way up to the top of your head. When you’ve done all the muscles individually, tighten/tense your whole body all at once, again for about five seconds, then relax/release for about 30 seconds. Repeat the whole process three times. (This relaxation technique works for just about everything and I often recommend it to clients who are learning to overcome fear of public speaking.)

2) Breathe deeply

Slowly and deeply inhale through your nose filling your belly like a balloon, then your lungs, until both belly and lungs are completely expanded and full. Pause; gently hold your breath, keeping your awareness on the fullness of your lungs and belly. Slowly exhale at the same rate you inhaled, expelling all the air from (first) your belly and (then) your lungs in a long, soft whoosh. A full breath (inhale and exhale combined) takes me about 30 seconds to complete. Repeat 10 times. (It’s making me sleepy just writing this!)

3) Immerse yourself in blue

It’s well known that cool colours, such as blue and green, have a calming effect on people. On the other hand, warm colours, tend to get people all fired up. Makes sense right? So, a good technique to help you fall asleep (or get back to sleep), is to picture a big light blue sphere in your mind’s eye. Then imagine yourself walking into it and being completely enveloped in the sphere’s serene, calm, quiet, and restful blueness. Let blue infuse every cell in your body, and as you do, feel each and every part of you slow down and relax; feel your brain and heart stop racing and your whole body start to drift off. Blue yourself to sleep as it were.

4) Listen to a guided meditation

I created my own guided meditation for sleep, but you can also purchase one at various places online by doing a simple Google search. I found one for $.99 at this link. Upload it to your iPhone, MP3 player, or whatever and use it when you need to. Also, the Android apps at the link below look pretty cool. They popped up via the WP recommended links function, and I haven’t tried them myself, but maybe someone else has, or will…? If so, share your experience if you’re so inclined.

5) Have sex!

If you’re awake, he or she lying next to you may as well be too right? (You know what they say: misery loves company!). Seriously though, sex is a great stress reliever, and can be really helpful in inducing slumber, assuming of course that your session is satisfying, and doesn’t simply add to your frustration (in which case, grrrr, maybe it’s time for a new lover LOL!)

If you’re single (like me), and don’t have a partner to turn to and turn on with, or you don’t want to wake your partner up, self-pleasuring is always an option. I keep a little glow-in-the-dark vibrator by my bedside for those occasions when I’m too tired to let my “fingers do the walking,” but not yet sufficiently drained for dreamland.

If all else fails, as it did for me at about 3:30 a.m. this morning, I just get up and start my day a few hours earlier than normal, knowing I’ll be so exhausted by the end of it to have to suffer yet another wide-eyed night. Yippppeee!

Got any of your own fail-safe, sleep-tight-and-don’t-let-the-bedbugs-bite tips to share? Let me know, I’m always willing to try something new…

Article notes:

Feature painting (don’t you just LOVE IT!?) by: Tamara de Lempicka

Born: 16 May 1898; Warsaw, Poland

Died: 18 March 1980; Cuernavaca, Mexico

Field: painting

Nationality: Polish

Art Movement: Art Deco

Susan Macaulay created and curates SheQuotesMy Alzheimer’s Story,  Amazing Women RockAmazingSusan.com, and Succeed With Susan. She is a feminist, global citizen, lifelong learner and the author of Everyday Feminine Wisdom and soon-to-be-published “the dogs’ breakfast.”






6 Responses to “Five Great Tips to Sleep When You Can’t”

  1. Ijassdie says:

    Thanks at last I found something which i think will help me sleep like a baby at night 🙂
    Fingers cross 🙂
    Btw nice post

  2. Too funny, I have actually been to Cuernavaca, Mexico! LOVED it and adore this painting too! xo Great tips dah-ling! Sweet dreams! Zzzz!

  3. Lynn says:

    When I can’t sleep it is usually because my mind is racing. Either I’m angry about something or worried. I find scrolling through Pinterest slows my monkey mind and I’ll drift off. I have a substantial Pinterest page as a result. 🙂

    I’ve tried guided meditations but I wake up when they end!

    • AmazingSusan says:

      Yes Lynn, the racing mind is a culprit for me too. Another strategy I use is to bring my digital recorder to bed. When my mind starts to race with blog posts I want to write, thoughts I want to share, quotes I want to compose, I reach for the digital recorder and speak all of my thoughts into the machine. I empty my mind of everything that’s in there knowing that I’ll be able to retrieve it from the digital recorder that the following day. I usually fall asleep right away after doing a content dump like that. Works a treat!