So you’re up at 3 am and glad that it isn’t time for work, but as you stare at the clock, sleep isn’t coming. What do you do? The decision you make is crucial to when and if you’ll be able to get some more snooze. Try these sleep tips from Men’s Health to get the ball rolling a lot faster when you wake up in the middle of the night:
1. Don’t turn on the lights: Keep the lights you need to a minimum to keep your brain from being stimulated. The more lights you turn on, the more alert you end up being.
2. Make your eyes tired: Pick up magazine or book, maybe even an instruction manual. The key is to allow non-exciting material to sedate you back to sleep. Remember to keep the lights dim.
3. Rely on your brain: It’s so tempting to turn to electronics and check your Instagram, but to get back to sleep it’s best to complete a digital detox each night. Practice mindfulness, mediation, mental imagery or other techniques that help you relax.
4. Don’t fumble around: If you woke up on your back, stay there. Don’t give your body a reason to think it needs to be alert by standing up for prolonged periods of time. Whatever relaxing activity you choose to engage in after 20 minutes of being awake in bed, be sure to do it in another room and lying down if possible.
5. Don’t stuff your face: If your stomach isn’t giving you the signal to raid the fridge, it’s best not to eat anything. A heavy snack or one that’s packed with sugar can do more harm than good, causing you to be up longer than you need to be. Stick to light, bedtime-promoting snacks or having a little Sleepytime Tea.
6. Learn progressive relaxation: This technique aims to reduce muscle tension as you focus one specific muscle group at a time. It’s also a great way to relax your mind as you de-stress.
7. Don’t make up the missed sleep: When you do get back to sleep, wake up at your regular scheduled time like nothing happened. Also, try not to take a nap so that you can get the rest you need when your bedtime comes back around.
It’s common to wake up in the middle of the night, but if you consistently find yourself unable to get back to sleep it may be time to keep a sleep diary and see a sleep specialist. Don’t let sleep problems last too long, the risks aren’t worth it!