Sleep experts estimate that up to 50 percent of all insomnia is caused by stress. If stress wakes you up in the middle of the night, here’s what you can do to put yourself back to sleep:
1. If you haven’t already, set an alarm for when you need to wake up, and then turn the clock around so you’re not watching the minutes tick by.
2. Notice any anxiety you might be feeling in your chest and see if you can gradually let that go with each “out” breath. Really imagine your stress leaving your body with every “out” breath.
3. After you begin to calm down, try meditating by counting every “in” breath and every “out” breath: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and so forth. If you lose count simply come back to 1 again.
4. If it’s relatively quiet, try meditating on the sounds you are hearing inside and outside the room. When your mind wanders bring it back to focusing on the sounds.
5. If that doesn’t work you can try using a technique called “paradoxical intention,” where you stare at a point on the wall until your eyelids get so heavy you just have to close them.
Sleep experts recommend that if you don’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, get up and leave your room so you don’t associate your bedroom with being unable to sleep at night. Try reading something inspirational or a self-help book until you start to yawn or feel sleepy. Practice the meditation again after you return to bed and turn out the light.
— James Porter, president of StressStop.com