Do you occasionally sleep poorly? Don’t worry – temporary insomnia is a part of normal life. If you wake up refreshed in the morning and consider your quality of life good, it isn’t a degree of insomnia that necessarily requires treatment.
The primary treatment for temporary insomnia is drug-free. Key solutions include support, finding and addressing the underlying causes and triggers, and guidance for self-directed sleep care. Diet and exercise, as well as other recovering during the day also affect sleep.
Find the most suitable way for you to relax by trying out different ways. Do mindfulness exercises help you recover in the middle of a hurry? Have you noticed exercise being helpful for mental relaxation? Or is your thing tea in the evening and good music? The number of options is huge – thankfully, because we’re also unique here!
Watch the lecture Sleep and recovering
Week 1: Tracking the amount and quality of sleep
- Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you always been a light sleeper or has the situation changed considerably?
- If the difficulty sleeping is new, have there been changes related to sleeping that could explain the problems? (e.g. bed, evening activities, eating or drinking habits, temperature)
- Have there been other changes in your life?
- If you have trouble sleeping, what kind of practical problems does it cause and how do they show?
- Does your sleeping vary throughout the week? What happens during the weekend?
- This week we’ll be adding sleep and things related to it to the weekly tracking:
- Did you have a nap?
- What did you do during the hours leading to going to bed?
- What time did you go to bed? What time did you turn off the lights?
- How does the trouble sleeping show? How many times did you wake up throughout the night and how long were you up for? (The idea isn’t to follow the night minute by minute – Estimates are enough)
- What time did you get up?
- What kind of thoughts and feelings do the sleeping problems evoke?
- In the diet module, we focused on ensuring a good eating rhythm. Now is the sleeping rhythm’s turn. Do you go to bed in time so that you mostly wake up refreshed? On average, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you often feel tired, I recommend trying out increasing the amount of sleep regularly by half an hour. Did it help? For the rhythm, it is also good to go to bed at about the same time every day. (Even during the weekends)
Week 2: The impacts of food and exercise on sleep
- Please keep tracking the same things as last week. What kind of realizations have you had? Have you already noticed something specific that had an impact on your quality of sleep?
- When considering the impact of sleep on the comments about your general well-being and tiredness, you’ve probably already noticed the impact of meals, drinks, exercise, and your thoughts throughout the day. In case you didn’t fill in the meals and exercise on the tracking sheet last week, I’m challenging you to also complete these areas. Consider how meals and exercise affect your sleep. A regular eating rhythm also helps keep your metabolism steady at night. On the other hand, doing the daily heavy exercise late in the evening also has an impact on falling asleep.
- Would exercise be more suitable for you in the morning or even during the lunch break?
- Did you notice how exercise decreases stress and difficulties sleeping? When your body has been moving, it excretes chemicals that naturally relax your muscles, increase your appetite, and make you feel good. Because of this, your sleep is deeper, more efficient, and better. Half an hour of daylight in the morning also makes managing your daily rhythm easier.
- Heavy exercise can, however, increase your awareness so that you can’t relax to fall asleep. It would be safest to stop heavy exercise as much as three hours before going to bed.
- Did you wake up to a feeling of hunger or was your stomach full because of a late and heavy dinner? Did you still drink a cup of coffee or black tea in the evening? Did you drink soda after exercise in the evening? Sugary foods and drinks can also make you feel more energized.
- Please also keep in mind that alcohol can make you fall asleep faster, but disturbs both deep and REM sleep. Thus, you should avoid even a glassful just before going to bed.
Week 3: Relaxation
- Try to relax before going to bed. Don’t even consider jumping straight into bed after work in the evening.
- Avoid stressful tasks before going to bed. If you know something that will cause you stress, don’t do it. Instead, try to finish up those kinds of tasks earlier.
- Adjust the bedroom temperature – some studies suggest 16-18 °C as the best temperature. Get rid of noise in your bedroom, or use earplugs if needed. There’s plenty of earplug types, so you should patiently look for the ones that fit you best.
- Get a good mattress and pillow: The bed should be large enough, and separate mattresses or beds are a good option for when you wake up to your partner’s movements or vice versa. Your pillow should support your head enough so you don’t wake up with a stiff and sore neck.
- Use loose bedclothes and pajamas. Your legs should be able to move freely during the night.
- Remove clocks and bright lights so you don’t follow the passing of time continuously. If you look at the time, you can easily get worried about how little sleep you’re getting, which in return makes falling asleep more difficult. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t turn on bright lights.
- Come up with a relaxation ritual: Listen to calm music, take a bath, go on a peaceful evening walk, or quiet down for breathing and listening to your body.
Exercises for pausing and relaxing
- Do you already have great tools for pausing and relaxing? Have you, for example, tried mindfulness?
- Mindfulness has been acknowledged even medically to increase well-being and the ability to focus. I recommend getting to know the subject by attending a local or internet course. Personally, I feel that a group helps me get started.
- There’s plenty of relaxation techniques for managing your thoughts. Only your curiosity is the limit to finding the right one, so please try something!
- Go for a walk in nature, feeling, smelling, listening, and looking. You can hug the trees, stop to feel the wind, press your fingers into the moss, and listen to the water purling while the rain is drumming on the sleeve of your raincoat.
- Exercise relaxes most of us when the speed is suitable. There’s also plenty of bodily techniques for relaxing, which the internet is full of. I’m a trained TRE (Tension, Stress, Trauma Release) stress-relieving method instructor. I’m very interested in the way TRE enables my body to tell what’s best for myself. Each one of us has stiffened their shoulders and/or gotten a stomach ache from when the speed has been too high and stress has taken a hold of our bodies. You can find more info on TRE here: traumaprevention.com/what-is-tre
- Please write down how you relaxed in the tracking sheet.
Week 4: Sleeping tips – pick suitable ones to try out
- It’s best to follow a regular day and night cycle. Get out of bed and go to bed at the same time throughout the week – even during the weekends.
- Be careful with naps. Naps longer than 15 minutes already affect most people’s ability to get sleep in the evening. Shorter naps can still give you some energy and help the evening go better.
- Herbal tea and a suitable supper calm both your feeling and sleep. A banana with a few nuts works for some, while a tuna or ham sandwich works for others. It isn’t a good idea to go to bed with an empty stomach as it decreases the quality of sleep.
- The bed is only for sleep and sex. If you can’t get to sleep despite everything, get out of bed. Don’t turn on the lights. Don’t start doing anything interesting or important, but rather sit down on a comfortable chair and write notes about what’s bothering yourself, or read a chapter of a book of your choice that you’ve already read before.
- Count sheep or guide your thoughts by only focusing on a nice subject. Bring your thoughts back from wandering around to this nice thought.
One of the most effective relaxation methods is deep breathing. Would at home or at work be a good place for it, to remind you that it’s good to stop and focus only on your breathing for a moment every now and then? Go ahead and try a simple deep breathing exercise by listening to the clip below.
You can also download the deep breathing guide as a PDF file below.Deep breathing guide