I nearly once bragged about my inability to fall back asleep once awakened. When I was pregnant, those frequent nighttime trips to the potty always did me in. Before that, a bark from the dog was enough to wake me from a deep slumber and cause me to be awake for nearly the rest of the night.
Now that my son is 12-months-old, I’ve learned that this inability is no longer an option I’m willing to have on the table. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to succumb to “I can’t” anymore. Momma needs SLEEP!
He still takes a nightly middle-of-the-night bottle so I have learned, over the last year, just exactly how to fall back asleep. I know I must not be alone, so I’m sharing my tips with you!
Use the “Clear the Board” Method
This is perhaps my most effective tool. I LOVE IT and it works for me every single time.
If you’re like me (and probably 99.9% of the rest of the population), anxious thoughts choose RIGHT when you’re trying to fall asleep as an ideal time to race into your mind. Let’s rid of them, shall we?
As a back story, in third grade, if I stayed after school, I could always witness my teacher, Mrs. Ilagan, cleaning the chalkboard by taking a wet sponge and cleaning it, row by row, until every inch of the board was soaked and clean. I’m not sure why, but, one night, about seven months ago, when my son was about 3 months old, I found myself immersed in anxious thoughts and unable to fall back asleep. “Enough!” I told myself, “it’s time to clear the board.”
Instead of focusing on everything else, I imagined Mrs. Ilagan taking a sponge to a board full of my anxious thoughts and wiping them away completely. I instantly felt calmer. If an anxious thought even tried to creep back into my mind? Nope. Sponge that. Goodbye thought.
When you think of cleaning something completely, what do you think of? Whatever comes to mind, replace the object with your anxious thoughts. Erase, clean, and buff those thoughts right out of your mind and don’t let any reappear.
Put the Phone Down
It’s not tough to grasp why it’s a bad idea to look at your phone to put yourself to sleep. If you’re justifying to yourself that reading makes you tired, but looking your phone has failed to put you to sleep in the past– stop lying to yourself. Maybe an “old-fashioned” book did the trick, but with our phones we have a beaming light shining into our eyes, not to mention the potential for social media interactivity.
The only thing you should be looking at when trying to put yourself back to sleep is the inside of your eyelids.
Shut Your Body Down
Even if you’re good at what you do, everyone could appreciate a little coaching, right? Apply the same concept to your body. Focus on your limbs and different parts of your body, one a time, using your mind to subconsciously “shut them down” until you feel fully rested and comfortable in your sleeping position. I recommend starting from the farthest parts of your body (toes and fingers) and working your way in (tummy and chest). Imagine you are the sole commander of a rocketship on Mission: Sleep.
As you coast through the starry sky and shift into an autopilot mode, coach yourself through thoughts such as, “shutting down toes now,” as they enter a still, calm position. Continue to do this with each of your body parts until you feel fully relaxed.
Try White Noise (…or Ear Plugs)
It honestly depends on what helps you sleep better. I can sleep both ways now that I’m a pro sleeper! Sleep aids such as these can truly enhance your level of relaxation and therefore sleep potential. I actually now do a mixture of both. Since I have white noise on in my son’s nursery, I blare our monitor in our bedroom, which loudly broadcasts the white noise for us.
My husband, however, is a serious snorer, so I now also wear ear plugs to drown him out. The result? An ear-plugged, essentially silent experience with a low level of white noise coming through in the background. The bigger result? Lots of deep sleep for this momma!
“Yes I Can” Attitude
Nothing will counteract any of the above tactics better than a negative attitude about any of them. As someone who used to spend 3+ hours trying to get back to sleep– even when tired– know that a combination of these methods definitely WORKS!
Getting up with my son in the middle of the night is that much more painless now that I know a return to a deep slumber is just a half hour or so away.
Give any of all of these a try, and feel free to tweet me or comment here your successes and failures!