health

3 tips for getting back to sleep when you are wide awake at 2am.

Your eyes are so tired that it feels like your eyelids weigh about five kilos each. And yet, when you turn the light off and close your eyes…you can’t fall asleep.

Picture this.

You’ve had the long week to beat all long weeks. Work is incredibly stressful. You’re in a bad family situation, your relationship is slowly breaking down, and to top it all off, you stepped on your hair straightener and now all you have a broken $300 straightener and a sore foot.

You finally finish off some of your work and crawl into bed around midnight. Your eyes are so tired that it feels like your eyelids weigh about five kilos each. And yet, when you turn the light off and close your eyes…you can’t fall asleep.

Instead, you spend a few hours over-analysing every situation under the sun. You go back over conversations you’ve had and rewrite them in your head. You come up with crazy new life plans and dismiss them almost immediately. You think about everything from elephants to toasters to Christmas (even though it’s February).

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Blackmores. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Before you know it, it’s the wee hours of the morning and you haven’t had a wink of sleep. And then you realise that you have to be awake in four hours, and you start to panic. And then you lie there some more, counting away each wasted minute and praying for your frantic mind to slow down. Three hours, 55 minutes… Three hours, 25 minutes…

Sound familiar? I bet it does. We’ve all had one of those incredibly stressful, sleepless nights, when your poor, tired brain is in absolute overdrive. And everything seems so much worse in the middle of the night, when the entire rest of the world appears to be resting peacefully. It’s just you, alone, in a world of terrible infomercials and midnight snacks.

Why am I watching Youtube videos at 2am?

Although…you’re not really alone at all. According to the Blackmores Stress Quiz, a massive 71% of Aussies surveyed are stressed by not sleeping well. Which really isn’t ideal at all.

If you’re one of those Aussies that stressed out, and unable to sleep, try one of the below remedies. And don’t forget to post your own in the comments.

1. Switch off entirely before bed.

Set yourself a bedtime – and at least an hour before you go to bed, turn off all electronic devices. No, really. Stop staring at your laptop and don’t lie in bed Instagramming.

Looking at artificial light before bed causes your melatonin levels to drop (i.e. your sleep hormone), and actually wakes you up. Which explains why I’ve often found myself watching seriously mindless Youtube videos until 2am for absolutely no good reason. 

If you switch everything off and give yourself a chance to relax, your body will wind down and your mind will get the message that it’s sleep time. Read a book, read a magazine, or just sit on the couch relaxing with a cup of (non-caffeinated) tea and a square of dark chocolate.

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Seriously.

2. Do some sleepytime yoga.

In October last year, I went on a yoga retreat for a few days. Every night, before bed, we would do an hour’s worth of yoga and then a meditation in a warm, darkened room. It was the best possible way to unwind before bed, and I had some of my best night’s sleep while on the retreat. (The massages helped too, admittedly.)

Twice a week, I try to go to a nighttime yoga class that finishes up at 10pm. There’s usually a meditation at the end: then it’s straight home and off to bed. If there are no classes near you, try downloading a yoga app or buying a meditation CD and listening to it for half an hour or so before bed. Even if you are stressed, take the time to look after yourself – it’s such a worthwhile investment.

3. Just breathe.

If you’re lying in bed, staring at the dark ceiling with your mind racing, simply bring it back to the present and try a simple breathing technique: breathe in for two counts, and out for four counts. Really focus on counting those breaths and trying to breathe out as long as possible.

Don’t try and ban yourself from thinking – because of course, the first thing you’re going to do is THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING. Instead, if a stray thought pops into your head, imagine taking it by the hand and simply leading it away.

Simply focusing on breathing will automatically calm you down and hopefully, you’ll end up in the peaceful slumber to beat all peaceful slumbers.

And in the meantime? Hop on over to the Blackmores website to do their five-minute stress quiz, which will pinpoint your sources of stress and give you further recommendations on how it might be managed. It will help. Promise.

What is your trick to falling back to sleep in the middle of the night?

With stress being a health and wellbeing concern for many Australians, Blackmores has stepped in to help by developing a Stress Quiz at blackmores.com.au/stress enabling you to complete a personal stress assessment and see how your stress levels compare to the rest of Australia. On completion of the quiz you will then be directed to relevant tips and resources on how to manage stress and help find balance in your life. Blackmores Naturopaths are also on hand for personalised advice via our free Advisory Service 1800 803 760.

Blackmores offers a range of products to assist Australians in finding balance including – Blackmores Executive B Stress FormulaBlackmores Sleep Sound Formula & Blackmores Digestive Bio Balance and Blackmores Sustained Release Multi + Antioxidants

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Blackmores Stress Research, Based on a nationally representative sample of 1,524 Australians aged 18+ carried out by TDE research, October 2013.