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Seven Tips for Sleep Training - As Adults


frustrated woman not sleeping

We've heard of sleep training for babies, even toddlers, but sleep training for adults?


Sleep. Ugh. We love it and at times we hate it. It can be the best thing or the most frustrating thing. Just when we get to that stage in life when 9pm is the holy grail, many of us begin struggling with sleep.


For how natural and intuitive sleep should be, it often presents us with difficulties.  Back to back nights of poor sleep begin to alter our moods, our mental capacities, and prolonged poor sleep really does create health concerns.  Sometimes we need to reboot and retrain our bodies on how to fall asleep.


I have struggled with bouts of insomnia for the past 5 years. For me, this poor sleep brings up the feelings of anxiety I experienced as I cared for my 5 babies, often resulting in night after night, month after month of poor sleep.


Not sleeping well creates all kinds of anxiety for me, as I’m sure it does for you. It’s not just about the challenges of navigating your day if you don’t sleep well, it’s about how your mind and body start to shut down without sleep.


I’ve felt that and it’s terrifying!


Meditation, has allowed me to keep my mind and heart calm during these times.  Even if meditation doesn’t bring me through the door of sleep, it can create a soft space for me to rest with less judgment and rigidity. This helps me keep my mind from frantic racing thoughts, which definitely prevent me from crossing over into sleep.


 

Simple Sleep Tips to Try


  1. Challenge yourself to create space in your mind where the idea of “8 hours of sleep” isn’t a rule, but just a suggestion.  Is it possible that you are functioning well enough on less sleep?  Just practice some curiosity here.  Perhaps you are in a unique phase in life where 4-6 hours of sleep is working for you? Allow your mind to loosen its rigid grip on expectations here and really make this more about what your lived experience is informing you around, not what the “rules” say you should have.

  2. Create peaceful nighttime rituals.  Gratitude journals, prayer books, beautiful art, bubble baths, reading that feels relaxing.  Treat your mind like you would your body after a good long workout.  Give it some time to cool down and stretch out.  Avoid just coming to an abrupt stop. Seek out activities that invite your mind to dial down in thought and intensity.

  3. Find an audio program, like a specific instrumental relaxation soundtrack, or a calm audiobook, or a meditation that you can listen to on a regular basis to train your mind that this is the invitation to dial down into sleep. Let this be a cue for your mind. Sometimes playing something softly in the background helps your mind release the intense thoughts/problems of the day and unfold as it gently focuses on something more soothing.

  4. Practice the sensation of falling asleep during the day, train your mind when it is alert to what it feels like to relax your body, to release your thoughts, to feel weighted, to observe your breath as it begins to deepen and become slower. Learn these sensations so you can find them easier at night.

  5.  Practice progressive body relaxation techniques so you can cue yourself into relaxation when trying to sleep.

  6. Allow yourself the space to try new things.  Different pajamas, sleep cooler, warmer, get up and walk around the house, stay in bed, sleep in a different space.  Keep a curious explorative mind vs a self defeating, rigid mind.

  7. Advocate for yourself.  If you need to try to go to bed earlier, or sleep alone, or take a nap, no one knows you better than you.  Have some compassion on your mind and body as it does the hard work of figuring this out. 

 

Dear friends, if sleep deprivation continues and you are unable to find relief through meditative practices, please consult with your physician.


Sleeping well is a huge aspect of living well!


To your nourishing sleep!


Juli Larsen

Certified Mindfulness Facilitator


 

Click below to check out my website for my Sleep Meditation recording:




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