Ask Jigsaw: Sleeping is almost impossible | Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: Sleeping is almost impossible

sleeping is almost impossible. the thought of sleep scares me when i go to bed at night. i wonder how long will it take tonight before going to bed. i sometimes get anxious if i will be able to sleep at night

i also wake up sometimes in the middle of the night sometimes even up to three times. it makes me very tired at school and very hard to focus it also makes me so grumpy and puts me in a bad mood

it takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep and sometimes when im up and cant sleep i say i will give myself 2 hours, but then i start to panic after a while when i cant sleep

–     🙂

It has become a focus of your attention and worry, which is adding to the difficulty of getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Sinéad, Jigsaw Clinician

Hi 🙂 ,

There is lots of information available about how much sleep we ‘should’ get, depending on our age and activity levels. If we feel we are not reaching these levels, it can become a source of concern, thereby keeping us awake and adding to the problem! It can feel like sleeping is impossible.

It sounds like you might be stuck in a bit of a vicious cycle in relation to your sleep pattern at the moment. Sleep has become a focus of your attention and worry, which is adding to the difficulty of getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Your relationship with sleep

It will be important for you to re-establish a positive relationship with sleep, so that the night time routine isn’t something you dread. Habits can be hard to break, but with practice it is possible. You can read some tips and ideas for building a positive bed time routine and getting a good night’s sleep here.

In order to re-set your body clock, it might be an idea to try to not go to bed until you feel tired. If you don’t go to sleep within about 20 minutes of lying down, get back up and do something boring (that does not involve screens- read something dull, do something repetitive). Try to sleep again when you feel tired. Once you establish a time to go to bed that means you fall asleep fairly quickly, you can begin to move this time a little earlier every few days, gradually increasing the amount of sleep you are getting.

Waking at night

What can often happen when we wake at night is that we check the time, and start to calculate how much sleep we have had, or how long until we have to get up. It is a good idea not have a clock near your bed. Set an alarm and trust that it will get you up in the morning. If you wake in the night, just acknowledge that you’re awake, but try not to judge the fact or start thinking about it too much. It might help to practice some relaxation techniques to use when you wake up. Progressive muscle relaxation, an exercise where you tense and relax your muscle groups in turn can be helpful. You can learn more about this technique here. Once you have practiced the technique a few times, you won’t need an app or video to guide you through it.

 

If you wake in the night, just acknowledge that you’re awake, but try not to judge the fact or start thinking about it too much.

Sinéad, Jigsaw Clinician

If feeling scared about going to sleep and waking at night is related to a particular situation or event, then it would be a good idea to talk to somebody about this. Perhaps consider whether there is a family member, teacher or someone else that you can trust to talk to in the first instance.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas of things to try to help you start sleeping more soundly, but if you make some changes and are still struggling to sleep, consider discussing this with your GP.

Best wishes,

Sinéad, Jigsaw Clinician