We've all been there. You get to bed at a comfortable hour and something wakes you up in the middle of the night — a bad dream, your neighbor's dog, a police siren...mother nature. And now you can't get yourself to fall back to sleep. And the constant reminder that you have to be up in just a few hours isn't exactly helping.
Here's what's helped me in the past:
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This is essentially a way to relax your body by isolating different muscle groups when you're feeling especially restless. From Everyday Health: "During progressive muscle relaxation, you will focus on each muscle group in your body, first tensing selected muscles for a few seconds and then slowly relaxing them over the course of 20 to 30 seconds." Learn more here.
- Put on a podcast. I don't know why this always works for me, but it does. Maybe don't choose something under true crime, though.
- Take a warm shower or bath. Yes, you'll waste some time being up, but a warm shower or bath always helps me get all sleepy.
- Don't keep track of the time. This is only going to leave you anxious. Ignore your clock (but make sure you have your alarms set!)
- Check out this wikiHow guide I have bookmarked on my iPhone: How to Relax and Go to Sleep. It's really so helpful and has tons of smart ideas to ensure you get a good night's rest.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic insomnia affects up to 20 percent of adults, many of whom don’t seek treatment for it. If you're consistently having trouble sleeping at night, consider reaching out to a sleep specialist.
I recently listened to Hidden Brain's eye-opening 2017 episode on why sleep is so damn important and what lack of it can do to the body and mind. Shankar Vedantam (the host) talks to Randy Gardner, a San Diego man who went 11 days without sleeping, breaking a world record. Below are Part I and Part II of the Eyes Wide Open episodes:
The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.