Fall asleep faster. Tips to give brain injury cold-shoulder.

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.

Why your not asleep yet

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.

The struggle of falling asleep especially after brain injury

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!

How to fall asleep, and it helps those with a brain injury

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.

Have a try and let me know if it works for you too? Have you got any other secret tips others can try?

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6 Replies to “Fall asleep faster. Tips to give brain injury cold-shoulder.”

  1. Oh I would do like an off button, just to mute the racing thoughts and overthinking, please just give me an uninterrupted sleep! Why is it my mind is out of control always in the middle of the night?
    I am going to try your counting strategy tonight, I need to break this cycle, it is mostly down to anxiety, my renumerating and over thinking thoughts, when I have had a bad day or a stressful situation, the dreams and racing thoughts come, anxiety rises, I renumerate and go down the path of overthinking a situation, into panic and despair, that’s the end of any sleep. Then the next day is fatigue and a bad day, it starts all over again.
    The days when I swim, I sleep better, maybe it’s the exercise? I also think it’s the coolness of the water and the calmness lane swimming brings, up and down, the mind clears. I try having no TV and a bath 2 hours before bed and use lavender lotion rubbed in my feet and hands to relax me. This sometimes works, but sometimes I am still caught out and am wide awake trying to fix the world. So tonight bring it on! I am counting down . Thanks for the tip, great blog again Michelle.

    1. Hi you sound just like me. I really hope counting backwards works for you too. Some people who are really stressed and need more to hold their concentration go back subtracting 7 each time i.e. 100, 93, 86 etc so that is the next level if you need it. I can’t do maths any more so that’s too much for me.

  2. Despite being one-handed…….I multitask like you wouldn’t believe. I always find I need to single-task to slow down my mind if I want to get to sleep. So, maybe turn off the IPad(email) & watch a show through my computer on the TV screen. Cuppa T and then off to bed……

  3. Well Michelle I tried the counting, it wasn’t great at getting me to sleep, but then I had a very loud snoring husband next to me, who’s head hits the pillow and he’s sound asleep. I ended up counting his snoring! But what I did find that, when I was woke up with the racing thoughts this time, I used the backwards counting to distract me, it took a bit of time to get into it, but it did bring me out of the overthinking and fixing state quicker. So tonight I am going, ear plugs, face mask, bath, no tv, and counting backwards. Hopefully the snorer behaves himself! Thanks again

    1. Perhaps try meditating for 10 minutes as well to help you wind down. Good idea to go for the ear plugs. Really hope you have success tonight, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

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