Things Sleep Experts Do When They Can’t Fall Asleep
Sometimes it’s just impossible to fall asleep. Well, at least that’s how it seems after tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting our pillow, groaning about our lack of sleep, and checking the clock again. So, is there anything else that would help us solve the issue?
First, let’s see what the sleep and dream psychologist Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., has to say about not being able to fall asleep. According to him, believing that good sleep is falling asleep instantly is wrong.
That may indicate underlying sleep disorder or extreme lack of sleep. On the other hand, taking 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s a sign of a good sleeper. That’s why we should become anxious when we can’t drift off in a moment or two.
So, what do experts do when they can’t sleep? We hope their answers will help you to get a regular good night’s sleep.
What Sleep Experts Do When They Can’t Fall Asleep
The associate professor of medicine at UCLA Jennifer L. Martin, Ph.D., advises us not to freak out when having trouble falling asleep. Common reasons why she deals with this issue from time to time is having something on her mind about her kids or work.
But, she knows she will eventually get sleepy enough to drift off, so she doesn’t freak out if she is awake longer than expected.
The president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine W. Chris Winter, MD, sees the whole situation from a slightly different point of view. He actually learned to enjoy the time he’s in bed and not able to fall asleep. And, what’s not to enjoy?
He is lying in a comfortable bed, in a quiet room, no one to call or text him, no everyday problems to deal with, just relaxing in the dark with his peaceful thoughts. It’s the time when he thinks about pleasant moments and plans future events like vacation or birthdays.
The thing is, for Mr. Winter, not being able to fall asleep quickly is not an issue at all – just an irrational fear. And, that’s why he never has this issue.
The president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Ilene M. Rosen, MD, recommends distracting ourselves with relaxing images and thoughts when we get into bed and not fall asleep. At least that’s the trick that works for her every time.
But, if she can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, she gets up and goes to another room to read a magazine. She tries to stay away from the TV and her phone at night as that may only worsen the problem. Also, she helps clear her mind by writing down the thoughts that bother her that night.
The co-director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital Shalini Paruthi, MD, says she thinks about her favorite things when she has trouble falling asleep.
She imagines being on the beach with her family, laying in a hammock, hearing the ocean waves, feeling the sun’s warmth, and smelling the sea’s saltiness. When you think about it, instead of worrying about not being able to fall asleep, she is actually enjoying it. Genius!
Another thing she does if she can’t fall asleep after half an hour is getting up and trying to figure out what the problem is. If it’s her restless legs syndrome, she puts a pair of socks and a blanket in the clothes dryer for 5-10 minutes. They help her warm up so she can calm her feet and legs down.
She also recommends the mindful meditation app called Stop, Breathe & Think. The short guided meditation, breathing, and relaxation programs turned out to be really helpful for her.
The director at the Clayton Sleep Institute Clinics and Insomnia Center Mark Muehlbach, Ph.D., recommends breathing exercises. When he can’t fall asleep, he practices diaphragmatic breathing – a simple relaxation technique that involves lying and breathing slowly while counting from one to four, followed by exhaling while counting from five to eight.
This technique helps him relax and prevents his anxious thoughts from keeping him awake.
We hope the advice from these experts will help you calm when you can’t fall asleep and speed up the whole process. Remember, you will eventually fall asleep as we all do, so don’t worry!