Whether or not you’re dealing with mental health issues, not sleeping, can be challenging.  If you’re under a lot of stress it tends to be harder to sleep.  This can also happen if you’re anxious, depressed or dealing with trauma.  Whatever the reason, we need sleep to help rest and rejuvenate.  While sleeping our nervous system goes into rest and digest mood to assist with these functions.  If you’re not sleeping enough, sleeping intermittently or not getting enough deep rest it will affect your body's ability to regulate your emotions. Here’s a list of tips and tricks that I’ve compiled over the years to assist clients in this situation.

Before Bed:

  • Have a consistent bedtime
    • It’s important to go to bed around the same time each night to help your body get into a routine
    • This will help your body learn when it’s time for bed and it will start to prepare
  • Have a wind down routine
    • Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids - get into the habit of doing things that help you wind down 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime
    • Get OFF SCREENS! - you need to do this minimum 30 minutes before bed to help your brain wind down

In Bed:

  • Continue the wind down
    • You can only use a screen if you’re reading an ebook otherwise put them away!
  • Write down things in your head
    • Do this on a pen and paper to avoid screens!
    • This will get the ideas swirling around in your head onto paper so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night thinking about them
  • Do a Breathing Exercise
    • Check out my April VLOG for examples
    • 3-part breath and Interrupted Inhales and Exhales are best
  • Do some Progressive Muscle Relaxation
    • I have attached examples in the Resources section
    • You can also look this up on YouTube or use apps like Calm or Headspace (in this case screens are permitted)

If you wake up:

  • DO:
    • Go to the bathroom
    • A breathing exercise or progressive muscle relaxation
    • Write down thoughts if they’ve woken you up
    • Just lay in bed and relax - it’s better to rest calmly even if you can’t fall back asleep right away
  • DON’T
    • Check the time
    • Get up and start your day
    • Get on a screen (unless it’s to do a relaxation or breathing exercise)
    • Panic about the fact that you’re awake and need to get back to sleep - this just makes it harder to actually get back to sleep
Catherine Sullivan

Catherine Sullivan


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