It's been awhile since I've been restless at 2 am. An inconvenient time to be un-asleep (this way, I don't have to repeat awake twice in one sentence...), when clients and other work waits, for the wide awake and present version of me. So, naturally, this is a wonderful opportunity to share some sleep spells with my readers.
Regular exercise and movement practices really do make a deep difference in supporting the rhythmns and cycles in our bodies. Choose things you enjoy doing - so you will actually do them. And enjoy doing them. Enjoyment and pleasure positively impact stress levels. Yep, I said it out loud.
I met a woman this week who was heading to her first contra dance lessons. Fast moving, high energy line dancing (that's about as much as I know + there's a strong community of contra dancers in my area). The bonus for this woman is that she gets to meet new people and studies have shown that people with a strong social network are more resilient in times of stress... which will also support better sleep.
Lay down for sleep at the same time each night. Or, day, if you're on that schedule.
Disclosure: This doesn't work for me but it has been helpful to many people to have a routine to follow. Some bodies love a reliable groove.
Turn off your devices and screens an hour or two before you plan to sleep. I love that I overheard a teenager make this suggestion to friends of hers that were struggling with sleep. There are plenty of articles available on the ways in which our bright and fast moving portable umbilical cords keep our nervous system amped up.
Amped Up is not thinking about sleeping. He wants to scroll scroll scroll and like like like. And she wants everybody to know about it and like her back.
You've got to change the signals and let your body know it's okay to rest a while. Chill the Squirrel out. The world will be there for your scrolling pleasure when you rise with rested eyes the next day.
Sugar + caffeine + alcohol
If you wake up to coffee and energy drinks and munch on muffins and bagels and chocolate on your way to an evening glass of wine or bottle of beer you've taken your body on a stimulatingly~ depressingly~stimulating ride. Up with the sugar then down with the sugar, then up with the caffeine, then down with whatever...
You are getting a message for something other than 'more coffee' if you feel you can't wake up without caffeine or stay awake without some kind of stimulant like caffeine and sugar. (Your stimulant of choice may be something else but these are the usual go-to's.) Your body is also communicating with you if you feel you need a drink (or, drinks) to unwind.
Those cravings and habits are signals of other needs like rest, deeper nourishmment and even something like, genuine social connection.
Consider eating breakfast - something more substantial than cereal and poptarts (if those aren't fueling you). Give yourself time for lunch (a real lunch). Once again, the world will not spin out of control if you take a break. If it does, it might be time to find help, so you aren't holding it together on your own.
Write it out. If you lay down with a hundred thoughts bouncing around in your head, it's time to put that stuff on paper or your mind will just keep drilling away at it's job - which is to sort, organize and fret. Writing may be the last thing you feel like doing when you lay down to sleep, but this practice works. You are not to edit anything or worry about spelling and grammar. Just write the words that come up out of your tired, overworked brain and watch over time as your thinking becomes less chaotic before sleep.
Teas and herbal support.
Just creating a nightly ritual with tea can soothe your senses. Making tea and drinking tea is inherently slow. Many of us need to slow down more than anything else. Brewing a cup of herbal tea is a very simple way to teach yourself how to return to this magical place of less doing and more being.. You can use this time to write your thoughts or reflect on the events of your day (another great practice for releasing stress and opening up the sleep channels).
Daily, we buy into the pace of go, go, go and sleep is a process of letting go.
These are just a handful of many practices that can help you rest. You are welcome to share what works for you in the comments below. Someone else might find your experience helpful too.
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road does not mean they are lost."