There are a lot of awful things in this world, but one of the worst is waking up in the middle of the night, having your brain race and your anxiety peak, and just sit there just trying to do everything you can to fall back asleep.
We recently gave you a few tricks to help you fall asleep in a minute, but, if that fails, what else can you do?
Well, the Wall Street Journal decided to speak with a few sleep experts to see just how people can overcome such a struggle, with the experts offering up these suggestions as solutions.
You probably already know this—because, you're smart—but being exposed to any light while trying to sleep only wakes up more. That's because it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps control your sleep. That said, even the smallest light can prevent you from going back to sleep, so avoid picking up cell phones next to your bed to even see what time it is, because that can cause you to remain tossing and turning.
Do Anything But Just Lay There Like A Dead Fish
OK, so you're awake and your mind is racing, prohibiting you from falling back asleep. Rather than just lay there and get frustrated that you're not dozing back off, try something that may help stimulate your brain and help you get sleepy at the same time. This can be something like doing a crossword puzzle, listening to light music or simply just reading. And, while any screen should try to be avoided, Daniel J. Buysse, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, says that watching TV with sunglasses can help reduce the levels of light your brain is processing—so there is a way to get away with it.
Don't Look At The Clock
Without a doubt, this is, usually, the very first thing all of us do when we find ourselves rolling around and unable to sleep. But Jennifer L. Martin, a sleep specialist from UCLA, says this should absolutely be avoided, saying, "[People] start to think, ‘How many more hours until I get up?’ That tends to create a lot of anxiety. You can’t sleep when you’re anxious and you can’t sleep when you’re doing math." In other words, you'll stress yourself out even more because you start thinking how many hours you'll actually sleep without actually sleeping.
Although it sucks to have lack of sleep, Michael Perlis, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the UPenn, says that, sometimes, the best solution is not doing a damn thing. "Don’t sleep in. Don’t nap. Don’t go to bed early the next day and everything will turn out fine." That's sound advice, because you don't want to throw off your entire sleep cycle going forward by making up for one night of sleeplessness—so make sure you hit the coffee pot a lot on those days you're feeling too groggy.