I started to use the Calm app a while back (the free version) to help calm my mind and relax my body. It was only when I started doing it regularly I noticed how much tension I hold in my body.
Other than that I have taken Passion flower extract and Valerian root about an hour before bedtime. Routine also helps as you mention already, but sometimes I slip back into my poor nighttime routine, which means I end up going to bed too late.
I also don't use phones or computers and hour before bed as that tends to overstimulate me, but I have broken this rule if I an struggling to sleep as a result of thoughts whizzing round my mind. Reading is also another option, but again I have to be careful it doesn't overstimulate my mind or else I am up for hours reading or thinking about what I have read.
I am always open to hearing more techniques on helping sleep though as I am struggling a bit at present.
You said " ... I started to use the Calm app a while back (the free version) to help calm my mind and relax my body. ... ". Do you have a link to this, please?
The trick for me is to not focus on anything when I lay down to sleep. Lights out, close your eyes, blank your mind. I get up at 6am and go to bed at 10pm so that's a whole 8 hours of sleep, and by that time I'm tired anyway. I don't think about any tasks or jobs before going to bed, I just relax and get on with my bedtime routine (brush teeth etc) and by the time I flop into bed I'm ready for sleep. I don't use a smartphone so maybe this is the secret as I'm not constantly attuned to it pinging for my attention, and I don't think about jobs that need doing because it's too late to think about them anyway, I'm not going to start doing them right now!
Alopochen said:In particular I'm interested in what to focus on once in bed rather than preparing for sleep.
This is the crux of it for me - I don't focus on anything, that sounds like a brain activity and I would probably get lost in imagining a scene in lots of detail rather than switching off.
A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about a job I needed to do at work as I lay down onto the pillow, and this woke me up and I couldn't sleep for 4 hours. So I guess your mental state as you get ready for bed is key - for me, I just clear everything and don't think about anything, just a blank mind. Definitely clearing your mind of lists or outstanding jobs, just think you can sort them out tomorrow with a less sleepy mind. I drop off in under a minute.
I'm also really strict about my bedtime. I used to get into bed at maybe 10pm and then play games quietly until 1pm, but this year I've stopped doing that and I get much more sleep in. There's times to have quiet game-playing time, and bedtime isn't one of them.
Hope this is useful.
Good advice. Wish I could follow it.
I now try to get into bed before midnight. I switch all mobile phones OFF. When I wake up during the night. I try to sleep straight afterwords. Don't go watch TV or switch on mobile and check sites such as this one.
Alopochen said:I don't know how you manage to think about nothing. I feel I need a technique to suppress thoughts, because I always feel I have so much to do and think about.
Putting the kids to bed first helps. I read bedtime stories in their bed and we have cuddles - which is nice quiet time - and the time is just for them and nothing else, so that helps remove all thoughts of everything else. I will often then come through to my bedroom and start getting ready for bed, so by this time, all thoughts of the day are completely gone, because once I'm absorbed in doing something, thoughts of everything else disappear. I have low lighting or darkness as I get ready for bed, and most of the lights are out in the house, so this signals to my brain that it's bedtime now. By the time I crawl into bed, I'm 'out'.
You could always try mindfulness or a simple meditation before bed. My hairdresser does Reiki on herself to settle down for bed.
I am horrifically unhealthy and have a couple of glasses of wine. - oops! and some reading
I find the Calm app helps when I do it regularly. The herbal elements helps me to wind down, but don't knock me out so to speak. I still need to work on that bit, but it's easier if you are calmer to start with.