86% of us suffer from sleep disturbance, but when you’re suffering from a chronic pain condition, it’s not just the disturbance, it’s the constant sleep deprivation that gets you stuck in a vicious cycle of pain and sleep.
Here’s 10 tricks you may not have tried before to help you to enter the land of nod:
Inhale through your left nostril
Lie on your side and place a finger over your right nostril to block the airway. Inhale quite deeply through the left nostril. This is a yoga method that promotes calmness and can reduce blood pressure. It’s especially good when you’re overheating or having a hot flush that’s preventing sleep.
Use your imagination
Otherwise known as Visualisation Meditation. This works best when at least 3 senses are engaged. Visualise yourself in a place where you feel content - relaxing on a beach, listening to the gentle sound of the waves, the scent of a Piná Colada in your nose. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and content.
Find your trigger
This one may sound strange. Do something unusual as you fall asleep such as gently stroking your face. Your body will learn to associate it with sleep, so when you’re struggling to drift off in the future you have a way of helping your body to recognise that it’s time to rest.
Fight the fatigue
Put yourself in to a sleep paradox. Challenge yourself to stay awake by keeping your eyes wide open and repeating to yourself “I will not sleep”. The brain will interpret this as an instruction to sleep because it doesn’t want to process a negative. Your eye muscles will tire rapidly as you get closer and closer to sleep.
Tense and relax
We already know that relaxing muscles helps to promote sleep. Lie on your back, take a deep breath through the nose and squeeze your toes as tightly as you possibly can. Release and move up to the next muscles - your calves. Tense a new muscle each time working your way up to your arms - by this time you should feel ready to drift off in to a peaceful slumber.
Roll your eyes
When we sleep, our eyes roll naturally, so trick your body in to sleep mode by closing your eyes and rolling them up three times. The idea is that this will help to trigger the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and so it can induce sleep.
Place your thumb at the point between the top of your nose and your eyebrows. Press down gently but firmly for 20 seconds, release, then repeat twice. Another one to try is to gently squeeze the second toe on the right foot - sit on the edge of the bed with the right foot across the left knee.
Sit comfortable, drop your shoulders, relax your jaw, close your eyes. Keeping your mouth closed gently, take a deep breath through the nose. Gently breathe out through the mouth, keeping your lips together to make a humming sound. It will make your chest vibrate. Focus on the vibration and repeat 5 more times.
Play your day in reverse
Go through your day in reverse order, trying to remember every detail of what happened. This helps to clear your mind of any worry or stress and brings your mind to a mental state thats prepared for sleep.
Write all your worries down on a piece of paper and put it away until tomorrow. Imagine filing your thoughts in to a cabinet and don’t think about them until you wake up. This will help to calm and relax your mind making you more likely to sleep.