Struggling to fall asleep is a common problem that affects millions of people on any given night. It’s frustrating, especially when you know that you’ll need to wake up early the next morning. Just as annoying, however, is finally falling asleep, only to wake up again in the middle of the night. While consistent issues staying asleep may indicate a more serious problem, occasional middle-of-the-night wakeups are normal and don’t have to mean missing out on much-needed shuteye. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, read on for some tips to help you fall back asleep.
Breathing techniques such as 4-7-8 breathing stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and can be very helpful for both calming the body and quieting a racing mind. To practice 4-7-8 breathing, inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold for 7, then exhale for 8. Repeat for three to five cycles until you start to feel sleepy.
Body Scan Meditation
Mindfulness meditation can be a great relaxation technique, but it does require a bit of practice to get the hang of, and the middle of the night isn’t exactly the optimal time to start. If you’re not an experienced meditator, body scan meditations are an effective alternative. To perform a body scan, lie down in a comfortable position, bring your attention to the crown of your head, then slowly scan down toward the bottoms of your feet. Breathe slowly, relaxing each body part as you go.
Certain frequencies have been shown to elicit states of relaxation in the brain, with delta waves in particular linked to improved sleep quality. Search YouTube or Spotify to find a track that you enjoy, then listen to it on a loop with headphones to help your brain drift off to dreamland.