Most people have had it, it's a horrible feeling, you really want to get to sleep, but you can't seem to relax, thoughts go round and round in your mind and the more you think about how you must go to sleep or else you'll be tired the next day, the more tense you get and the cycle goes on until at some point you eventually (hopefully) drop off.
Lack of sleep not only makes you feel tired the next day, but it can make you feel sensitive to any little annoyance, so that a tired person can be grumpy and not much fun to be around. It can be hard to concentrate, meaning school work is likely to suffer and you could get behind. Loosing lots of sleep over a long period of time can cause big changes in your personality.
How can we try and break the cycle?
Hearing all of these problems can make the pressure to sleep seem even more intense, when you are fighting that wide awake feeling. Fortunately there are a few techniques we can use which might help and it's good to know about these in case you find yourself in that situation where you just can't seem to relax. One of the biggest things to remember is that the best way to look at it, is just to accept that right now you are feeling awake and remember that when your body feels ready to go to sleep it will, trying to force it will only make it worse.
Focusing on one of these techniques can take your mind off the worry of not being able to get to sleep.
1. Abdominal Breathing : Breathe in slowly and deeply and as you do feel your tummy expand as big as it can go, wait a second, then slowly release the air and as you do feel your tummy pull in as small and thin as it can go, wait a second, then repeat for as many times as you like. It's very relaxing.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation : Start with your left foot, tense all its muscles as much as you can and then relax them, then move to your calf muscle, tense for a few seconds, then relax, continue all the way up your leg to your buttocks, then start with the right foot and up to the stomach, chest,back, each arm neck and head and even your facial muscles, tensing and releasing each part one by one.
I like to combine the abdominal breathing with the PMR, so that I breath in as I clench my muscles and breathe out as I relax them.
3. Visualisation : You can imagine being in a lovely place, like a beach holiday or being in the woods, somewhere where you have felt relaxed and happy before. Really imagine the scene, picture every detail, (smells and sounds too) and feel yourself relaxing into it. this will relax you and take your mind off the stress of not being able to sleep. you can also buy prerecorded CDs of guided relaxations, alternatively you could record yourself (or a parent or guardian) describing a relaxing scene.
4. Get more active in your everyday life - According to the The National Sleep Foundation, a recent study which consisted of a nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
5.Stop Computer gaming for the last 90 minutes before bed - we know you like the games but they get your brain buzzing and make it harder to relax.
If loss of sleep is a big ongoing problem for you, it might be wise to visit your doctor, occassionally there is an underlying cause that is not stress, or anxiety. Sleep problems can be related to allergies or food intollerances and your doctor might be able to help you, or refer you to a nutritionist.
The main thing to remember is to try and relax about it, accept that you might be awake for a while and that when your body is relaxed enough it will fall asleep, in it's own time. Trying to force it, or worrying about it won't help, but try gently focusing on your breathing, or some of the other tequniques I have mentioned, they might help. At least they will take your mind off worrying!
All SMART Coaching(Stress Management And Relaxation Techniques) are designed to provide excellent and relevant quality well-being and mindfulness training, mindfulness training in schoolsor with young minds and intuition, insight mindfulness training across all sectors.