The Painless Way To Reclaim Restful Sleep

Frustration from lack of restful sleep

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.


It’s 3 am and you’re wide awake. You can’t stop thinking about all the things in your life that are wrong, or that could go wrong. You’re anxious and exhausted and have given up hope of getting restful sleep.

But…it doesn’t have to be this way!

There are plenty of ways to get back on track so you can enjoy these precious hours of sleep. They can help you wake up refreshed and ready for work the next morning.

What The Body Is Doing At 3 AM

Our bodies go through a transition in the middle of the night. Our body temperature starts to rise and breathing becomes lighter. This is the body’s way of preparing itself for being awake in a few hours.

After going through a stressful day, your body clock may be disrupted. In this case, the body will still react as if it is time to wake up even when you are still trying to get restful sleep.

To make things worse, the fast-approaching morning can add to your frustration. Feeling self-conscious about being awake will drive your mind deeper into a state of anxious wakefulness.

Why We Focus On Our Fears

When we wake up in the middle of the night, we can get stuck thinking about something that happened during our day. Out mental and physical energy is at its lowest point. Even the smallest problems can seem overwhelming and unsolvable. We may also feel like there’s no one around to help us, making us more anxious.

While the mind may appear to be problem-solving, it’s really stuck in a state of worry. Instead of looking at the issue with fresh eyes and perspective, your mind keeps going back to an unresolved problem or concern. Without adequate restful sleep to get back to its normal state, the mind can’t effectively solve these problems.

Quieting Our Thoughts For Restful Sleep

In these times of mental turmoil, we can turn to the practices of mindfulness and mediation. While the mind’s worries are focused inward on the “I” and its fears, we can shift that focus outward. We can do this by paying attention to the sensations we experience in our bodies like our breath rising and falling. Follow your breath as it flows through your belly – in and out. Are the breaths fast and short? Or are they slow and steady? Do this for 10-15 minutes, releasing tension with each breath.

Another technique I’ve used to fall asleep is doing a mental body scan. You can slowly scan through your body from your toes to the top of your head, paying attention to how each part feels. Are the muscles relaxed? Do they feel stressed? As you pass each body part, visualize turning off a switch and releasing all tension to the muscles.

If all else fails, you can turn on a dim light and do some reading. This will shift your attention away from your thoughts and allow your mind to quiet down.

So, the next time you find yourself lying awake at 3 am, remember that it’s normal to have anxious thoughts pop up in the middle of the night. Don’t judge yourself for this experience. Instead, use mindfulness to gently guide yourself away from your worries and back to restful sleep. And, be sure to spend more time dealing with your problems during the day so they don’t follow you into the night.

For a more in-depth look at how our bodies operate at night, take a look at this article 

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