Stephanie is enjoying being a (sleep-deprived) first-time mum living in the Northwest of England.
When you wake up in the middle of night it can sometimes be difficult to get back to sleep; every sound seems excruciatingly loud, you can't stop thinking about what you need to do tomorrow or something that's worrying you, or you have a partner that is tossing and turning next to you.
I have periods of being unable to sleep and find this really frustrating. The more frustrated I get though, the harder it is to sleep!
When sleep seems impossible, there are a few steps you can take to help you get back to the land of nod.
Really? Am I mad?! Just hear me out.
If you really can't fall back to sleep, staying in bed isn't going to help you. Get up and do something that isn't too stimulating, such as getting yourself a drink (no caffeine!) or going to the loo. Being dehydrated or needing to go can stop you from falling back to sleep.
You could also listen to some soothing music until you start to feel a little sleepier, or read something you've read before (so you don't get so enthralled you have to carry on reading until morning).
Writing for HubPages at 2am isn't what I have in mind here.
If, like me, you wake up and thoughts are buzzing around your head, such as things you need to do, or things that are worrying you, sometimes it helps to get them out of your head and onto paper.
Make a list of the things you need to do, so you can go back to bed and know that it doesn't matter if you forget them in the morning as you can look at the list you've written.
If things are troubling you, try to write them down. Sometimes when you write something down, it doesn't seem half as bad as you thought. Writing problems down may also help you come up with a solution, which will also help you to sleep easier.
This may be one step you have to take the following day.
If your inability to sleep is due to an issue that's bothering you, speak to someone about it. I used to have a friend that I knew would be up at unsociable hours and would be able to answer her phone, so I could call if I needed to. Another friend used to message me in the early hours of the morning, knowing that I would get up at 5am to go for a run and so could answer faster than anyone else she knew.
Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear to listen to your woes and take the burden off you. Other people may also be able to help and suggest ways to help. Don't underestimate the power of unburdening yourself on helping you to sleep.
Invest in Sleep Aids
If light, noise or temperature are making it difficult for you to fall asleep it may be wise for you to invest in a few items that will help you to drift off.
If your bedroom curtains let in too much light, invest in blackout curtains or a blackout blind. You can even buy blackout lining that can be clipped behind your existing curtains should you want to maintain the look that you've created.
A cheaper alternative to curtains and blinds is an eye mask. I personally cannot wear something around my face as I sleep, but many find this useful.
Also be aware of the light emitted from other sources in your room, such as mobile phones, alarm clocks, computers and televisions. Turn mobile phones, computers and televisions off before you fall asleep. This prevents you from being tempted to look at them when you wake up, which would make it even harder for you to fall asleep. Make sure your alarm clock has a function to turn the display off when you sleep. Some allow you to wave your hand over a sensor if you need to know what time it is in the night.
If it can get noisy where you live and this keeps you awake, invest in some ear plugs. There are many on the market nowadays that are comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. Look for ones that have a spongy consistency and mold to the shape of your ear.
If ear plugs aren't for you, try using a white noise app on your phone (keep your phone turned away from you so you can't see the light it emits) or download some white noise tracks to help distract you from the noises that are keeping you awake.
Sometimes I am unable to sleep because I am too cold (I am one of those people who always seems to be cold!). But whether you are too hot or too cold, you can take action for this. Buy a thicker or thinner duvet to suit your needs, as well as nightwear that will keep you warmer or cooler.
If you are warm at night, keep your curtains shut during the day to stop the heat getting in. Also, open your windows to let a breeze in. If it's too windy or raining, put your windows on the latch so that a small amount of air can still enter your room.
If you are still too hot, buy a fan and place this in your bedroom as a last resort.
For those of you who are too cold and can't sleep, my tried and tested method (besides warm PJ's!), is socks! Cold feet makes you feel cold all over. If I'm really suffering, a thick pair of socks seems to do the trick.
Other methods of keeping warm include an electric blanket (use this to warm the bed up and turn it off before you fall asleep) and a hot water bottle. A dehumidifier removes the moisture from the air and can warm up a very cold room, however you may prefer to turn on the central heating for an hour.
If none of these issues are what are causing you to toss and turn at night, try lavender essential oil. Put a couple of drops onto a handkerchief before bed and place it inside your pillow case. Lavender is well known to aid sleep1.
If you have any further methods or ideas on how we can sleep better and get back to sleep quickly after waking in the night, please feel free to comment below. Your input may help someone else in the early hours of the morning!
- Lewith GT, Godfrey AD and Prescott P (2005) - A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Stephanie Elford
Tomi Smith on July 21, 2017:
Nice article with good tips on getting to sleep.
Earplugs do help me, but I never thought about writing down things in the middle of the night when I wake up. I will have to try that.
I do agree that talking to someone and getting things off your chest before going to sleep actually helps.
I also use the Sedona Method which is like a form of meditation, that teaches techniques of positive thinking and positive goals to work on, such as saying to yourself, "I will allow myself to sleep until (a certain time), and wake refreshed."