My first inclination, like many people, is to fluff up the pillows, reposition myself, and will sleep to overtake me. Sometimes that works, but usually sleep remains evasive. So, instead of counting sheep for hours, here are a few tips to manage sleepless nights:
- Get up. Yup, put on your robe and slippers and get out of bed. If you can’t sleep, you don’t want to stay in bed. That’s because you want your brain to associate your bed with sleep, not with insomnia. So, go check your email, read a book, or watch TV in another room for a while. When you start to really get tired, go back to bed.
- Don’t catastrophize. Realize that you will likely sleep better tomorrow and that you can get through the day without your regular sleep. The more you get upset about not falling asleep, the more your brain will keep you awake. Worrying just doesn’t work.
- Have a very small snack. It doesn’t have to be raw broccoli. A glass of milk or a cup of tea and a biscuit or piece of toast will do.
- Talk to your doctor. No, don’t call her at 3 am when you can’t sleep, but if your sleep problems become chronic make an appointment with a health care professional. In addition, consider a short stint of cognitive behavioral therapy with a mental health professional. CBT has been shown to be effective for the treatment of insomnia for many adults.