Recently I have been having a difficult time sleeping. I keep thinking and worrying about things I have to do the next day, and other things that are on my mind. Since my sleep’s been off I’ve also had a harder time focusing in school. Everything just seems to be falling apart, what should I do?
- Tired and restless
Dear Tired and Restless,
As I’m sure you know from your personal experiences, sleep is vital in all aspects of our lives. Besides providing you with energy, it also helps your mind process the events of the day, increases your focus, and helps your mind and body function properly. That being said, it seems like you’ve realized that and identified the cause of your sleeplessness being stress. Stress is a major cause of sleep deprivation because at night we have time to think and can’t distract ourselves from worry. But you already know all this, the question is what to do about it. First, specifically identify what is causing this stress. If you are unable to sleep, keep a notebook or piece of paper by your bed (no electronic devices, they are clinically proven to only keep you more awake) and write down what's on your mind. Sometimes letting out what you are feeling, whether it’s to a counselor, or just written on a piece of paper can help ease your mind. Once you’ve written down what it is that is causing you to stress, think if there is anything you can do to reduce your anxiety about it. If you haven’t finished all of your homework and are worrying about having to get it done in the morning, or worrying about what your teacher might say, plan ahead to get your work done earlier to prevent it from happening again. If you are worried about friends or social issues, talk it out with your parents, a counselor, or even just discuss how you are feeling with your friends. You weren’t specific in what issue was causing you to be unable to sleep, but whatever it is if you are able to do something about it to make your situation less stressful, mainly talking with friends/family/counselors, I think is a good idea. Since you also mentioned that your lack of sleep is affecting your schoolwork, I suggest talking to your teacher or counselors if it becomes a serious issue. But for now, just try to get your sleep pattern back on track (give it a month or so) and deal with whatever is causing you this anxiety and stress. A few other small ways to encourage sleep is to do physical activity sometime during the day, step back from using electronic devices at least an hour or so before bed, listen to calming music, and to think about the place that makes you happiest, or come up with a story in your mind and hopefully you’ll eventually drift off. Hope this helps! Good Luck!