Insomnia: Keeping Time Will Keep You Awake
How many times do you wake up in the middle of the night and check the time? I used to look at the clock all through the night. I would mentally calculate how much more sleep I could get if I went back to sleep within the next 5 minutes. A fair amount of time was spent each night doing the math in my head. This took away from time I could have been sleeping.
Losing much-needed sleep
Once my brain started trying to figure things out, it would kick back into overdrive. When that happened, I would be awake longer. My mind would begin reeling with jumbled thoughts. The more time I had to think, the more time it took me to wind down and fall asleep.
If you have insomnia, you know those precious minutes it takes to get back to sleep make a huge difference in how you feel the next day. If you do not have insomnia, know that we are functioning on little sleep, and missing even a few extra minutes can drastically affect our ability to function. Many of us are running on the bare minimum and cannot afford to lose any more sleep.
Checking time triggers my mind
I realized that checking the time was the worst thing I could do. Figuring out how much time I had left to sleep triggered my mind to send a million more thoughts.
It also triggered a small bit of panic realizing how little time was left. Ignoring the clock helps me remain calm. I am able to relax and fall asleep in less time. Those extra minutes make a big difference during the day.
Deep breaths and visualization
Rather than opening my eyes, performing quick math, and then fighting to shut off my brain, I take a few deep breaths. When random thoughts start to cross my mind, I try a trick a former soldier taught me. He once told me that when he needed to fall asleep quickly during his deployment that he would picture a black box and study it in his mind.
The empty box, devoid of detail and color, was enough to keep his mind from wandering and let him get to sleep in a hurry. It does not help me all the time, but sometimes I can slow my thoughts. This decreases the time it takes to drift off to dreamland.
Breaking the habit
If you want to get back to sleep sooner, try to stop watching the clock. Break the habit and see if it helps. Turn the alarm clock around so it faces the wall. Move your cellphone out of reach. Make it harder to find out what time it is, and see if it makes a difference.
We all know that nothing works for everyone, but it might work for you. If it helps you get a few extra minutes of sleep, it might be enough to help you battle fatigue and get through your day. It might be enough to keep exhaustion at bay while you get things done. Maybe it will be enough to help you improve your focus. If it does not help, you have not lost any more sleep than you would have without trying it.
Does checking the time keep you awake at night? Have you tried to break the habit? What has or has not worked for you? Tell us more in the comments below!
Does anyone else in your family have insomnia?