[Sticky] Got sleeping issues?
Do I have a sleep problem?
You may want to know.
If you experience problems with your sleep, then it is likely that you will recognise many of the feelings, physical symptoms, thoughts and behaviour patterns described below
Tired / Exhausted
I'm never going to get enough sleep
I'm bound to have a terrible day tomorrow
I'll be awake all night
I will fall asleep at work and get in trouble
Trying to catch up on sleep during the day
Lying awake in bed at night
Frequently checking the clock during the night
Sleep problems can be broadly categorised into three types:
Problems getting to sleep - lying awake and not being able to fall asleep.
Problems staying asleep, for example waking up early in the morning.
Poor quality sleep - not feeling refreshed by the sleep you do get.
Relaxation helps: Here are one or two exercises - they are specifically designed to help you to relax. However, you should stop the exercise if at any time you begin to experience discomfort or pain.
This simple technique involves focusing on and slowing down our breathing patterns. Many people find this simple exercise very relaxing. It can be particularly helpful for those who feel dizzy or light headed when they feel worried or stressed. This sometimes happens because people's breathing changes and gets quicker when they feel distressed.
This can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. It can make people even more on edge, and a vicious cycle can occur. Learning controlled breathing exercises can help you to manage these feelings more effectively. It can also help to give your mind and body a chance to calm down.
Remember, you can use this exercise to help you relax at any time. You could even use it to help you get off to sleep. However, it is particularly useful if you ever feel light-headed, dizzy or faint.
Get into a comfortable position.
Work out a stable breathing rhythm. Perhaps try to breathe in for three seconds, hold this breathe for two seconds, and then breathe out for three seconds. It can be helpful to count as you do this (e.g. IN: 1-2-3, HOLD: 1-2, OUT: 1-2-3, HOLD: 1-2).
Repeat this action for a few minutes. You should soon begin to feel more relaxed. If you were feeling dizzy then this should also get better after a few minutes.
Tension often builds up when we feel upset or stressed. These symptoms can be painful and can cause anxiety in themselves.
Muscular relaxation exercises can help you to control such unpleasant symptoms. They can reduce physical tension and help you to relax in general.
During this exercise you have to tense and then relax different muscles in your body. You should focus on the feelings that you experience whilst doing this. With practice you will then be more able to recognise and respond to the onset of tension.
You can work through as many muscle groups as you like. Don't feel that you have to cover every muscle in your whole body. It can be helpful to stick to the same muscle groups each time you practice. That way you can get into a routine which you can easily remember. If you practice this nearly every day you will probably notice an improvement after a couple of weeks.
Find somewhere comfortable and quiet where you won't be interrupted. You can either sit or lie down to practice this exercise. Begin by focusing on your breathing. Try to have a slow and comfortable pace. You could use the controlled breathing technique described earlier. Do this for a few minutes to prepare for the muscular relaxation exercise.
Try to tense each muscle group for around five seconds. Don't tense the muscle too tight. Focus on the sensations that this brings. Then relax your muscles for a similar length of time, and again, focus on how this feels. Then move onto the next muscle group.
Try to remember to keep your breathing at a comfortable pace throughout. Below are some suggestions of muscle groups that you may wish to work through:
Legs - point your toes and tense your muscles as if you were trying to stand up.
Stomach - tense your stomach muscles.
Arms - make fists and tense your muscles as if you were trying to lift something.
Shoulders - shrug your shoulders. Lift them up towards your ears.
Face - make a frowning expression. Squeeze your eyes shut and screw up your nose. Clench your teeth.
It can be helpful to spend a few minutes just lying quietly in a relaxed state. See if you can notice any tension in your body and try to relax it. Otherwise, just let the tension be. If your mind wanders, try to bring your concentration back to your breathing.
Finally, count down silently and slowly: 5-4-3-2-1-0, and come out of the relaxation in your own time. See if it's possible to carry that relaxed feeling into whatever you do next.