There are two things that can generally dispel worrying at night. The first is to decide to tackle the problem that worries you at a definite time the next day and to forget it for now. It is surprising how effective a self-promise to act at a later date like this can be.
Worrying At Night
The second plan is not just to throw the worry at night out of the mind, but to set about replacing it with something more attractive - your next holiday, for example.
Some people sleep poorly because they expect to. They go upstairs with the thought vaguely and dimly in the back of their minds, that they will spend another weary and sleepless night. Now, the mind has an uncanny way of producing the kind of things it expects. For all good functioning we need a certain measure of quiet confidence. So if you have been awake one night, take it for granted that when you go to bed you will sleep soundly the next.
The stubborn fact is that many people relax and sleep badly. Worrying at night is one of the commonest ills. Some people relax and sleep badly because they think to much about it.
When all is said, sleep is a natural function. It is as natural as breathing, or eating. The moment we begin to make it a matter of desperate and anxious effort, we tend to frustrate it. Whenever we become anxious and worrying at night about any bodily function we tend to disturb it.
A child merely curls up in bed, and gives himself to sleep. He does not need to be taught how to relax and sleep. He does not imagine it a difficult thing. In this we may learn wisdom from children.
A very frequent cause of poor sleep is, of course, that many people choose the nighttime as the period in which to reflect upon every problem and trouble and end up worrying all night.
The habit is ridiculous, for our powers are at their lowest ebb in the small hours, we are at that time least fitted to think clearly, or decide wisely; and, in the second place, a good night's rest would do far more for us than fretting and worrying all night about our problems.Trust Your Body
It ought not to be necessary to mention indigestion as a cause of worrying at night, but the fact is that many people suffer from sleeplessness caused in this way.
The last meal of the day, sometimes even the last two meals, may have a decidedly bad effect on sleep. It is wrong to work the stomach to hard while we sleep.
Many people have the notion that, since they are not going to eat again before the next morning (in eight or ten hours time) they ought to have a good meal before going to bed. This is wrong; a very light supper - a glass of milk and a biscuit or two, or something similar - produces the best results for most people.
Remember, too, that not only the size of the meal but also what it consists of is important. A small meal of something, which is difficult to digest, is just as bad as, and perhaps worse than, a large meal.
Further, lack of sleep may not be due entirely to the late meal. Plenty of people omit supper altogether and still fail to sleep. Often such people, knowing they will have little or no supper, eat large masses of bread at teatime.
Like most sedentary people, their digestion is slow, and the indigestible meal at five keeps them awake quite as much as pickles, or cucumber or something equally indigestible taken at eight or later.
Finally, what of those people who are not aware of sleeping badly, but who wake in the morning feeling anything but refreshed or ready for the day before them.
They "wake up tired" as they put it. And yet they may have spent ten hours in bed, and actually have slept for most of that time. Such people are loath to get up. And when they do come down to breakfast they are irritable, moody and snappish.
Why is this? Here is a subject which understanding psychology and the subconscious mind will help make clear.
For the moment it must suffice to say that in all such cases there is something deep down in the mind of such people, which is at work, even in sleep, to worry and irritate the mind. It may be some problem or some task, which they have never squarely faced up to.
Although they do not worry over it in sleepless turmoil like the other worrying at night-worriers we mentioned above, it ravages their mind and clamors for attention through the hours of darkness.
More rarely, the reason for waking tired may be some sense of guilt, which, while not actually preventing sleep, yet robs sleep of its beneficial and re-creative effects.
As Abraham Lincoln once put it, "you have to sleep with your conscience". A troubled conscience is a bad bedfellow.
Other related pages at Relax and Sleep