Last week I had a rare bout of bad sleep. It was caused by the October heatwave, temperatures went to over 26 degrees centigrade (78F) when it’s usually 10 – 15 degrees C (50 -60F) at this time of year. It was just too hot to sleep comfortably. I’m in London so we don’t really have air conditioning unless you hire a machine, which one might think of doing for summer but not for autumn. So for 3 days I had trouble staying asleep which had a knock-on effect, disrupting my sleep pattern for the rest of the week.
I was getting about 4 hours of solid sleep, then waking up and drifting in and out of sleep for most of the night.
In the first night of insomnia, I woke at about 3 am and lay there frustrated trying to get back to sleep. It took me about 2 hours before I was able to fall asleep again by which time there were onl a couple of hours left before having to get up.
On the second night again I woke up around 3. This time I gave up trying to sleep and did something different. I used the time to meditate (about 40 mins), watch some tv (1 hour) and just lay there relaxing. I didn’t sleep much more but I didn’t feel as tired during the day either. I managed to catch up on sleep with a 20 minute nap during the day.
The third night I took another approach. I went to bed early at 10:00 and spent about 9 hours in bed. I slept solidly for 4 hours but woke up at 2am. An hour earlier than the night before. This time I lay in bed relaxing, drifting in and out of consciousness untill 7:30. I felt even more tired when I woke up and thought maybe I should have just settled on the the 4 hours sleep I got when I woke up at 2am. Sleeping longer doesn’t neccessarily make you feel any better. I did the sleep recovery exercises which alleviated the tiredness from the night of bad sleep.
Day 4 onwards I started sleeping for longer. It took me a whole week to get back to my normal 7 hour pattern.
An annoying experience but it taught me something, I do write about getting good sleep but I rarely have a bad nights sleep so it is hard for em to understand what with clients go through who sleep badly. So it was a great experience as I now remember what it’s like. So I have 2 major tips for the occasional insomniac:
1. Don’t stress out about lack of sleep. Trying to get back to sleep will only add to your frustration just be content to relax in bed. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be to fall asleep.
Whenever you wake up and can’t sleep, imagine it’s the weekend
If you wake up in the middle of the night and it’s a school night you tend to worry about how much sleep you’ve had which makes it harder to go sleep. When this happens on the weekend you’re more relaxed, you’ll get up and do something else or just lie in bed. The difference is there is no pressure to get a certain amount of sleep.
So if you wake up in the middle of the night, treat it the same as a weekend. Pretend you are having a lie in, watch some TV or a dvd or even read. Do something relaxing that doesn’t make you more alert.
2. If you can’t sleep Meditate –
Meditation relaxes and calms the body down and facilitates it’s healing. Being more relaxed will mean you’ll feel less tiredness and at the very least you are allowing your body to regenerate.
Simple meditation: Lie in a symmetric position or sit up in bed. Start by focusing on your breathing. Begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths — inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth.
- Don’t force your breathing. Let it come naturally, your breaths will gradually become deeper and fuller.
- Just focus on following your breathe as you breathe in and out. Allow your thoughts to come and go, in fact notice yourself noticing your thoughts.
- Don’t worry if you drift off just come back to the meditation and focus on your breathing.
If you have prolonged insomnia see your doctor who can reveal other causes. I recently found out one thing that can keep you awake is eating too much sugar so speak to a doctor.
I have some more info from my upcoming book which which I will add in so stay tuned