Monday, September 19, 2016

3 Techniques for Falling Back Asleep

I used to have a super power. No, I was not faster than a speeding bullet. Nor was I able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. My super power was better than Superman’s – I could quickly fall back asleep after being woken up.  

A child would call me in the middle of the night and I would get up, get them a drink or pull up the covers and then I would stumble back to bed, where wham, I was back asleep almost as soon as I hit the sheets.

If you’re jealous – you’re not the only one. My husband was too. Whenever someone called “Daddy,” I’d give my husband the old side poke. He would get up begrudgingly, muttering that he would be up for hours whereas I’d be snoring before he’d get back to bed. He would cite the “unfairness” of the situation while I just snuggled deeper into my pillow.

But, and, get your hanky out because here’s the sad part, my super power is… gone. I don’t know what happened exactly. All I know is that as my kids have gotten older, they’ve thankfully woken up less frequently throughout the night, which in turn has garnered me many an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

For whatever reason though, over the last month or so, little people have been calling out between 2-4 AM. I go into their room and get them whatever they need, but when I get back to my room, I can’t get what I need – peaceful slumber.

A good night’s sleep is a gift, I recognize that. I also know that it’s like our health, we take it for granted until it’s gone.

I’ve never really had trouble falling asleep; I still don’t. Before I go to bed, I almost always read for a little while and then when I’m good and sleepy, I go to sleep. It’s almost always been that easy for me, and so this difficulty in falling back asleep is new territory.

When I first had trouble going back to sleep, I tossed and turned for a bit. Then I tried reading on my phone because I could do that with the light off, but that didn’t really seem to help. I don’t know if it was because of the oft-blamed blue light or because of too much brain stimulation too early in the morning, all I know is that I was still awake.

So then I tried some meditation-related techniques, like focusing on my breathing. It sounds so very simple; but, sometimes simple works. Here are three techniques to try when you can't fall back asleep.  

1.    Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Method.  This exercise involves exhaling completely and then breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts and exhaling for eight counts. The pioneer of this method, Dr. Weil, claims that this method will induce sleep in 60 seconds because breathing like this calms the mind and relaxes the muscles. It hasn’t been my experience that I fall back asleep that quickly but hopefully it will be yours!

Find a video of how to do this technique here.

2.    Focus on where your breath comes from. Breathe naturally, but focus on the source of your breath. Are you breathing more deeply from your mouth or from your nose? Continue observing your breath. Now switch so that you’re breathing differently from how you were before.

3.    Slowly scan your body. While breathing naturally, do a scan of your body. Start at the top of your head and work your way down to the soles of your feet. You aren’t zooming through from head and shoulders to knees and toes; you’re assessing slowly, almost like an MRI machine would. As you check in with your body, what sensations do you feel? Is anything hurting or tense? Relax and repeat as needed. 


  1. Hmmm.... I am awake right now while my husband snoozes beside me. I couldn't sleep so I grabbed my phone to catch up on your blog...True story.

    1. The real question is: did this post put you back to sleep?

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