10 tips to deal with disturbed sleep

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Getting enough sleep is one of the best tools for success, is an act of self-care and is essential for your wellbeing. Yet so many of us have disturbed sleep because we are stressed or worried. In the past waking up at 3am was not unusual for me when stresses and worries played on my mind. There was always stuff to do, bills to pay, things to worry about. The things that keep you up at night look bleak and overwhelming at 3am

When I woke up, my mind would race and I would find it hard to get back to sleep quickly. Of course, that meant my sleep cycle was broken and I was aboslutely wiped out the next day. Not pretty.

The bigger problem was the vicious cycle of disturbed sleep that this set up. Being tired meant a lack of perspective, lack of energy and more worries!

As Mavericks with a mission to create a world that works, we can not afford to let disturbed sleep take us down…plus it feels crappy. Here are my top 10 tips of how to deal with what keeps you awake at night:

Detach

  • Write it down - keep a pad by your bed and write down what is swirling around in your head. It might be a simple task that you mustn’t forget or a bunch of worries. Either way write it down, get it out of your head and detach. It will be there in the morning, but you will be better equipped to deal when you are more rested.
  • Compartmentalise - imagine that there is a box or a drawer that you are going to put all your worries into. See yourself placing them one by one into the box or drawer until they are all in there. Then close the box or drawer and seal it shut, telling yourself that you will open it back up in the morning when you are ready.

Relax

  • Belly breathe - start breathing from low down in the belly and take deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Stay focused on your breathing and every time your mind wanders to your troubles, gently bring your focus back.
  • Sigh - in addition to deep breathing, intentionally sighing releases both energy and pressure. Sigh a good couple of times as you breathe deeply and you refresh the oxygen deep in your lungs, which helps the body disperse nervous energy.
  • Count down from 10 to 1 slowly - a version of counting sheep if you like, but counting down from 10 to 1 slowly gives a racing mind a focus. It paces our thinking, slows it down and brings our attention back to the breath. This in turn gradually takes us further into a relaxed state. When you get to 1, rinse and repeat…go back to 10 and count down again until you fall asleep.
  • Visualise - imagine a point of light in the middle of your body, like a ray of sunlight that contains all the relaxation and contentment that you could want. As you lay there, feel or visualise that point expanding with each breath, slowly growing to fill your body from top to toe. Each time your mind whizzes off, bring it back to the expanding light.  Other relaxation techniques help as well.
  • Smile - if you are laying in bed and worries are churning around your head, close your eyes and smile. As strange as it may sound, bring a grin to your face if you are worried. It is pretty much physiologically impossible to feel bad or worried when you smile…it is just hard wired in.
  • Use lavender - lavender is a great relaxer and soother of nerves…and is great for helping sleep. A couple of drops of lavender essential oil in an oil burner or even onto your pillowcase will do wonders for frazzled nerves. The aroma bypasses the conscious mind and triggers a relaxation response deep in the consciousness, making it perfect for over thinkers. There are other essential oils that are great as well.

Take action

  • Get up and do one thing - sometimes, you just have to get up and do something. The body is simply too wound up. So, get yourself out of bed and decide one small thing that you can do to alleviate the thing that is keeping you awake. It might be just making a list of actions. Either way, make it very small and doable. There is nothing like action to alleviate tension. Then go back to bed and sleep (use the Relax tips above to help).
  • Deal with the underlying source - not overly useful in the moment when you can’t sleep, but the best way to deal with what is keeping you up at night is to deal with the underlying source. Look at what is worrying you in the cold, hard light of day and that will help give some perspective. Then you can problem-solve to your heart’s content, but keep it out of the bedroom. :)

If you are going to be a peak performer, live your purpose or just want to have a happy life, sleep is so important.

It has taken time, but these days I have learned to sleep a lot better and to get back to sleep much more quickly if I do wake up. I have much more energy and it is amazing just how much happier I am for better sleep! Getting happy by sleeping? Gotta be worth it.

Leave a comment below and tell us what your top tip for dealing with disturbed sleep is.