It has been well documented that sleep is our best friend when it comes to the long process of recovering from a brain injury. At one stage after my brain injury I slept so much that I couldn’t imagine ever needing sleep tips. As I had experienced insomnia from a young age, I was thankful I could finally fall asleep with ease. However that wasn’t to last and I ended up in an awful routine of going to bed but tossing and turning all night. I previously wrote about how I was recommended a technique to break this cycle. Now I want to tell you how I make sure I fall asleep quickly.
Make sure you follow a good routine
I have written before about sleep hygiene, and making sure you have a sensible sleep routine. So I’m not going to lecture you about that again, but you can review it in Sleep after TBI: unlock 11 endorsed steps . It’s essential that you put these into practise so if you are struggling to sleep it might be worth having a refresh.
Tired, but struggling to fall asleep
Most people who struggle to fall asleep quickly say they just can’t stop thinking. This is particularly linked to anxiety which many brain injury survivors, like me, suffer from. Even though I realise I can’t change any of the things I’m worrying about, my brain still keeps running though everything. It’s like it thinks we’re going to have an epiphany if we just keep trying. And maybe that’s possible, but not if I’m sleep deprived. I might have ideas, but they won’t be well thought out and I’ll be too tired to action them anyway.
I’ve found my secret “OFF” button
Wish you could mute your brain? Fed up trying hypnosis and meditating to induce sleep? Don’t get me wrong, both of these are wonderful techniques which I have used before. But sometimes when you’re in a bad place it’s hard to concentrate. I try to imagine my safe place, full of wonderful things. But if there is something big stressing me out I keep going back to it. Even if I’m listening to a guided meditation I find my big stressful issue makes me ignore the calming words all together.
So I’m delighted to tell you, there IS an “OFF” button for the brain, or at least there is for me. Our brains are amazing and are used to doing many things at the same time. I’m rubbish at multitasking, but it doesn’t stop my brain from trying. But there are some cognitive actions which take extra concentration so it’s really difficult to think of anything else at the same time. Thus you can’t keep worrying about that big bad issue. Sounds good doesn’t it! And even better news is that you don’t have to do anything fancy!
No sheep needed to fall asleep
We used to be told to count sheep, but this doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it’s also been proved by Oxford University. (They are serious boffins who are some of the worlds smartest people so it’s tough to argue with them.) But counting is involved…. just backwards.
- Start from a high number, 300 works for me but you can try 500 or even 1000.
- Breath slowly and after each breath count down. By involving your breath this way you are staying present and not worrying.
- Think of you breath as purifying.
- Don’t worry if you loose count, either go back to the start or just estimate where you were and continue.
- I can’t remember ever getting past 250 as my mind drifts off quietly and then I fall asleep.
The counting backwards takes more effort than counting forwards so it distracting your brain. But it’s not too taxing. Or if you prefer you could try letters instead.