As promised last month, here are a few practical tips if sleep is eluding you.

If you wake up during the night and feel restless: instead of tossing and turning, drink water or herbal tea, walk calmly, breathe, read or write. Do NOT watch TV or turn on the computer. Be aware of the signs of sleep coming back and go straight to bed. If you feel better staying in bed, take the opportunity to try some relaxation, meditation or Sophrology exercises.

If need be, make a list of everything you have to do the following day before going to bed so that you are certain you will not forget anything and feel calmer.

If too many ideas go round in your mind, imagine you are putting them in a box where they won’t bother you and you can find them again the following day if you need them.

Tips for the day to prepare for a better night’s sleep

Take several one-minute breaks each day: close your eyes, breathe out loudly, let your shoulders down, unclench your jaw, feel your feet on the floor.

If you have too much on your mind or something is bothering you: stand up, take a cushion, close your eyes, imagine you are putting all the annoying ideas in the cushion, and breathe out loudly while throwing it on the floor. Repeat 3 times and listen to how you are feeling.

Concentrate on your 5 senses: on your food when you eat, on what you can see, smell or hear during the day, especially if it makes you feel good!

Tips for the night if you wake up and cannot go back to sleep

All these exercises are to be done lying in bed, as soon as you realise you are waking up and feel too awake. Try them all, choose those you like and work with one or a combination.

Count up to 3 as you breathe in, count up to 4 as you breathe out, count up to 3 while you gently hold your breath, your lungs empty. Repeat as much as you can and make it as regular as possible. Do not force your breathing; find a rhythm that works comfortably for you.

Breathe in and gently contract all your muscles from head to toe very gently then breathe out loudly and let go and relax. Do it 3 times and listen to how you are feeling.

As you breathe in, imagine you are breathing in a calming word like “peace”, “calm” or “quiet”.

Repetition and regularity are of the essence for these tips to work. Trying them once half-heartedly will not be enough. But if you do need more help on sleep, remember that sleep specialists and sophrologists are there for you and do contact me if you want to know where the nearest one to you is.

Sweet dreams!