What’s the trick to get back to sleep in the middle of the night?
This is a question that people are expecting me to easily answer as a sleep clinician. But actually, it requires a more complicated answer than expected…
If this is happening to you over and over again, it means you have a type of insomnia. Which requires consistent behavioural change to prevent you from waking up.
What can I do to prevent waking up?
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep it means you need to find ways to avoid your brain from associating the bedroom with awakeness. If this happens often, it becomes a pattern and your brain thinks that’s what you want.
You need to leave the bedroom. You’re awake, and you can’t just get back to sleep by willing it to happen. That doesn’t work, unfortunately…
Leave the bedroom, leave your anxieties, stress and anything similar outside the bedroom – that’s really important!
The more time you spend awake the more sleep drive you’re going to build. Spend some time distracting yourself from any worries or anxieties by doing something you enjoy. Not any chores or work. Just things you really enjoy- perhaps, carry on with your evening activities until you feel sleepy again and then go back to bed.
It’s fine to do things like relaxation exercises, but if you’re starting to get anxious and worried you’ve got a new problem.