What do you do when you count sheep but can’t sleep

My fitness tracker has a feature called Body Battery. It shows a count that depicts the energy levels you have throughout the day. As you hit your end of the day and it is time to get some rest, the count is usually in lower single digits. When you wake up, depending on how good your sleep was and how well your body recharged itself, the count goes high. Sometimes in higher 90s and sometimes in higher 80s. So the gist is, the better I sleep I during the night, higher the body batter count is during the day, which inturn keeps my energy levels higher. Sleep is therefore very important. It lets your body recharge itself.

For the longest period of my childhood, whenever I couldn’t fall asleep, I slept using the same hack every time. I imagined to have a hundred million bucks in hand and began thinking what I’d do with it. Well, back then, a hundred million was the farthest I could stretch my imagination. I’d donate to charity and buy a few things like an ice cream factory or a toy one or even a shoe manufacturing unit. Before I’d even spent a few thousand, I’d fall asleep. I still haven’t spent the remaining yet!

We’ve heard this time and again that when you can’t fall asleep, count the sheep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work anymore. With the thought’s factory refusing to shut down and the phone beeps tempting you to open your eyes and check (“one last time, I promise!”), it becomes difficult to fall asleep quickly. What results is lack of adequate sleep, irritation, a drowsy morning and a body that does not feel healed enough. Well, there are reasons galore as to why one can’t fall asleep. Like the impending board meeting or those project reviews. The nasty comments. The bank EMIs due for a long time. Or even the nagging parents, kids and spouses who leave you with a drained mind. Try something that works.

What I’ve realized is that there is no point in trying to stop the thoughts. When you’ve suppressed your tensions and worries the whole day, they will jump to the front when you begin to sleep at last. Random thoughts cross your mind. Allow them to flow and don’t respond. Don’t continue the thread with responses of your own. Observe how your mind churns out stuff from its deepest recesses and enjoy it. After a while, the mind calms down on its own.Many grown- ups actually sing their own childhood lullaby in their minds to fall asleep. And boy, it works. The same one that your mom, granny or nanny sang to you. Get a recorded version if you can. Who says only kids needs a lullaby? Talk to yourself to fall asleep. Remember how mom put you to sleep. A specific song, memory, your mom’s quilt, some smells like rosemary or Lemongrass induce sleep in many. Oh! Even that menthol balm works for many.

But if you’re troubled by sounds around, you’re in for some big trouble. The traffic on the road, the noisy neighbors, some faraway song playing or even a street dog barking can distract you. Try to create a soundproof room. Better still, switch on the AC or play some soothing music to mask the irritation. The internet is full of albums of soothing sounds like running water, chirping birds, the Tibetan gong or a subtle flute that can calm any frayed nerve.

Cold weather is a big sleep inducer. If possible, open your windows and let the cool breeze in. Turn the AC to a slightly lower temperature. Pull out your favorite comforter and snuggle up in its warmth. If its too hot outside, the ensuing sweat will not let you sleep soon. Get your room to cool down as much as possible. If it’s really cold outside, the frost will not let you sleep either. Keep yourself warm with some good fitting clothes and quilts or blankets. The warmth usually gets us back to the basic instinct of mother’s warmth and aids in putting us to sleep

A hot water bath, massage or a warm glass of milk or coffee often helps in feeling sleepy. No wonder people follow these practices the world over. Somehow warmth inside is a huge friend of sleep. It soothes tense muscles actually. So what not try doing the same without the hot milk? Falling on your back and focusing on one muscle at a time from your toes up to your calves and right up to the head. Take one specific part at a time and focus on it. “My toes are relaxed. My feet are relaxed and so well rested” Go on with these self suggestions till you realize your whole body has loosened its muscles. It will take a long time to relax your facial muscles which are the biggest culprits when it comes to insomnia. The eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, forehead and temples just refuse to relax quickly. Get your groove with practice and relax those muscles with ease. Our body can fall asleep when all its muscles are not tight but loose.

Many people love to read themselves to sleep. Keep a couple of books on your bedside table but ensure they are not horror stories or mysteries that would charge your already alert mind. The same is the case with songs or music. Keep it slow and soothing. A good story book, novel, travelogue or self help books usually do the tricks. Avoid checking your phone messages as they trigger immediate responses from your mind. You’re invariably tempted to reply, hit the like button or browse some more. At all times, avoid watching loud movies or web shows that put the mind in overdrive. Put your phone away after a certain time and don’t touch it till the next morning.

Our sleep is entirely dependent on light. Start dimming the lights at home slowly even an hour before you hit bed. At a fixed time every day, put out all the lights and go to bed. As man evolved, his day began with dawn and ended with dusk when the sunlight was no more available. Follow that same regimen of our ancestors. Trust me, darkness helps.

A good yawn actually does the trick of making you feel sleepy. Look at images of people yawning or sleeping. Looking at babies and cats sleeping also works.

A good night’s sleep is something we all take for granted through our childhood and spend the youth pulling all-nighters with ease. It’s only we start working that our body starts demanding its quota of sleep when it realizes it’s actually deprived. It’s not so hard to fall asleep. Nor so boring as counting sheep after all.

How did you beat that dreaded insomnia? What measures have you taken in your routine before you go to bed that has helped you improve your quality of sleep? Take a moment and comment below your tips.

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