The Best Ways To Fall Back Asleep

Sleep problems

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I can’t sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back asleep. Then I’m so sleepy all day the next day.
Signed,
Sleepless

Dear Sleepless,

I think everyone reading this can relate to your letter at some point in time. And what a frustrating experience too! 😫

The good news is there are more sleep aids now than ever. But before trying any of them, see a physician, who can rule out medical issues and determine if medication or other factors are causing the problem. The physician may refer you to specialists for further assessment.

Next, find a competent therapist so that you can express any thoughts, feelings, past trauma, or current stressors, which may be keeping you awake at night. The therapist can also refer you to other professionals as needed. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”

Causes of Sleeplessness and Solutions

Stress

Writing in Journal

Sometimes people lie awake worrying about their problems. If that’s true for you, put your thoughts and feelings down on paper and leave them there. At the same time, leave your concerns in God’s hands, thank Him in advance for the answer, and He will give you peace (Philippians 4:6).

Then, think positive thoughts, such as how amazing and loving God is (Philippians 4:8). For more details about focusing on God, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,”The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.” Another idea is guided imagery, which is used to direct your thoughts to a calm scenario. See “What To Know About Guided Imagery” by WebMD to learn more.

One thought pattern, which has worked for me, is focusing on a topic I’m not interested in. Basically, I think of terminology associated with that subject and before I know it, I’m asleep. This tactic is more effective than counting sheep.

Another alternative is to totally clear your mind and just focus on gentle sounds like a fan or a sound machine. Check out this video by Antoya White with an hour of soothing music and comforting Bible verses.

Or think outside the box. Use your imagination, which will segway into a dreamy state of mind and then a deep sleep. For example, imagine that the cars and planes you hear outside your window are being operated by giraffes, tigers, etc. as if the animal kingdom conducts their business at night. Consequently, the logical part of your brain rests and your mind drifts off to sleep.

A simple grounding technique can take your mind off any anxious thoughts. For instance, focus on the weight of your body on your bed or the fabric of your pajamas. Limiting your mind to the physical sensations of the present moment can help you fall asleep.

Furthermore, regarding stress, you may be interested in the following posts:

Stimulation

pajamas, slippers and eye mask on a bed

Sometimes, there’s too much noise or lighting to sleep. I can attest that an eye mask and earplugs make a difference; I’ve used one or both at times.

Another source of stimulation is screen time. Michael J. Breus, PhD, recommends a reduction of artificial blue light from electronic devices at least 90 minutes before bedtime because blue light hinders the production of melatonin. For further explanation, see his article “What is Blue Light and How Does it Effect My Sleep?” on The Sleep Doctor website.

If putting the phone away at the end of the day is difficult for you, then the sleep apps described in this article, “The Best Apps for Sleep,” by Sleep Foundation can be beneficial. They provide meditation, bedtime stories, and many other features.

Food and Drink

What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat can all effect the quality of your sleep. Two informative articles are “The 9 Best Food and Drinks to Have Before Bedtime” by Healthline and “What Foods Can Disrupt Sleep? 11 Foods to Avoid Before Bed” by MedicineNet. They describe the best and worst food and drinks to consume before going to bed. Also mentioned is the recommended timing and amount. What works for me every time is unsweetened cereal with any type of milk, and then I’m out for the count!

Excess Energy

A simple reason for lying awake at night is not being tired. Exercise releases excess energy and muscle tension. It will also increase endorphins and release dopamine.

man swimming laps

But what if you have an exercise routine and you still lie awake in the middle of the night? Consider trying progressive muscle relaxation, which is tightening and relaxing muscle groups. See the article, “Progressive Muscle Relaxation,” by Shilagh A. Mirgain, PhD, and by Janice Singles, PsyD, for more information. I’ve had success with a few minutes of muscle relaxation followed by a couple of deep breaths. Just be sure to consult your doctor before you begin progressive muscle relaxation or an exercise program.

The List Goes On

The reasons for lying awake at night are endless. But now you have some fresh ideas to improve your sleep and help you fall back asleep. (You may also be interested in “How To Turn Off Your Mind So You Can Sleep” by Tami Creates.) “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). 😴

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This post was originally posted on 10/8/22 and has been updated.

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2 Comments

  1. TC

    I can relate to the misery of sleep deprivation-not fun. I really like that you gave an alternative to totally clearing the mind. As an INFJ that is practically impossible for me, lol! Very helpful that you mentioned the blue light issue. I have been thinking of buying some of those blue light blocker glasses or something of that sort.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks for your comment–glory to God. I hope the tips help.:)

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