When we cannot sleep, stay asleep or struggle to fall asleep it is quite often because we are trying too hard.
When I started the self-improvement growth phase of my life a few years ago I didn’t put much importance on my sleep. I thought ‘burning the candle at both ends’ wouldn’t affect me. Granted, burning the candle both ends for me means watching self-development videos and reading personal development books!
I was wrong. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health, growth-development and our well-being. Without sleep, the body cannot repair itself and the mind eventually cannot function. Even the Dalai Lama admits ‘sleep is the best meditation’.
Here’s a few tips that will improve your chances of falling asleep, and ultimately staying asleep.
- Go to bed when you are first tired. Don’t sit in your chair until you can barely keep your eyes open, then wake yourself up by starting to get ready for bed.
- Don’t drink coffee or any other stimulant within the three-hour window before bed.
- Use your bed for sleeping; sitting in bed watching TV, playing on your mobile phone or even reading a book can become a habit and you will no longer subconsciously relate to your bed as a place to sleep.
- Stop using any artificial light in your bedroom. This includes mobiles, iPads and all those little LEDs that shine off every device imaginable nowadays. I have little stickers over many devices in my bedroom so when the lights are out it is fully dark.
- Keep your bedroom nice and cool. The perfect temperature for sleep is when you need to cuddle up under the duvet because the air outside of it is a little too cold.
- Unless it is absolutely necessary for it to be on, turn your mobile phone off or at least put it on silent during the night. Most phones also have the option to turn the notification LED off.
There’s many more, however these are the main and most important things we can do to get a good night sleep.
How do we get to sleep?
Trying to get to sleep is normally our biggest mistake. When we are trying to get to sleep and it doesn’t go to plan we get frustrated, become more alert and ultimately more awake than we were before. How many times do you fall asleep when you are not trying? Falling asleep is one of the most natural things we do, as long as we stop trying.
First, we need to get past the myth that we need to ‘stop thinking and clear our mind’ in order to go sleep.
This is where simple focus meditation comes in – not the kind that requires sitting on a cushion. The kind of meditation where when laying in bed you just focus on something like your breath. Every time your mind wanders, smile and thank your mind for the thought but remind it that you are focusing on your breath. It is a similar method to counting sheep, although many people go wrong with this method because they get frustrated when they lose count, they start again and wake themselves up. If you miss a sheep, that’s fine. I’m sure the imaginary sheep are not bothered!
Count sheep, or focus on your breath, it really doesn’t matter. The point is to focus gently on something simple and consistent, and not become rigid and regimented in doing it.
If while trying to focus you find something that is really sticking in your mind, something that you should be doing the next day or some other distraction, then grab a piece of paper and write it down – that way your mind will think you have dealt with it and be able to let it go.
This can also go with getting something off your mind regarding a worry, or some kind of anxiety. If you’re anxious about something happening, write down on the piece of paper what you are anxious about and then write down that you believe it will work out okay. Your mind will relax a little.
When you still cannot sleep?
If all else fails, here is a sleep meditation that has been designed, recorded especially to help people go from an active thinking mind to a relaxed state of deep sleep.
Remember, sleep is a skill. It takes practice and just like any other skill we need to prepare for it.
Let me know how you get on in the comments below.
If you still cannot sleep after doing these things and using my sleep meditation, message me perhaps I can help.