In our last post we discussed ways to help “sleep maintenance insomnia”. Here, a person may fall asleep at bedtime without problems, but wakes up sometime during the night and has difficulty falling back to sleep.
Stress is a common problem that contributes to all types of sleep problems. Today we cover two simple techniques that specifically help lower nighttime stress.
Prepare for the next day
Many people with sleep maintenance insomnia wake up thinking of all the things they need to do the next day. Often they worry that they won’t get it all done, and that keeps them awake.
A simple way to help this is to make a complete list of all your tasks for the next day, the day before. If you make a good list before you go to bed, you are less likely to wake up thinking of what you need to do. You can be confident that all your tasks are on your list.
Think of —and better,write—a gratitude list
Again this is a very simple measure but it really works. Studies have been done both in students and in adults of all ages showing that a gratitude journal helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with less middle of the night waking.
A lot of people have problems falling asleep in the middle of the night because their mind is full of negative thoughts. Many people forget the good things in their lives at nighttime, and focus on the problems they have or might have the next day.
To try to counter this, when you go to bed, think of the good things that happened during your day or week. Think of the things you can be grateful for in your life.
The best thing to do is keep a book by your bed, and every night before bed, write items in your gratitude journal. If you don’t want to write, at least go over the things in your mind.
Therapy vs. pills for insomnia
For people with insomnia that is not cured by simple measures, you will likely benefit from professional therapy. Short-term therapy from a psychologist trained in “cognitive behavioral therapy” gives better long-term results than sleep medication. It is best if you can find a psychologist who has received special training in insomnia.
Sometimes only a couple sessions are needed, but the therapy may involve 4 to 12 half-hour weekly sessions. There are online programs that have shown good results, and are less expensive than a therapist, but are so far only in English.
For more on the subject of insomnia, check our other posts on the subject—for example, why sleeping pills are not a great choice, and how being exposed to the wrong type of light at nighttime can harm your sleep. Finally, especially remember to try the gratitude list! It’s free, without side effects, and you will feel better.
Read also in ProcuraMed:
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)