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Do you wake up early and find it hard to get back to sleep?

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Written by Patricia Adams | Updated 10 September 2019
Next Review 01 January 2012

RSCPP Psychotherapist Patricia Adams looks at how to manage early waking.

Waking up in the early hours is common for people with mental health conditions. You may find yourself waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

There are physiological reasons which can lead to early waking, people with depression for example can experience hormonal change, and generally mornings can be time when we all struggle. If you are living with a mental health condition, waking early can lead to negative thoughts, feelings of doom, increased anxiety and fatigue all of which can feel overwhelming and hard to manage.

Here are some ways to help make mornings easier and ease into the day ahead:

1) Try and challenge automatic negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can just pop into your head in the mornings and have no connection to facts. They can be hard to stop and feel inescapable. Think about a different perspective or a more positive way of looking at something. Write down a list of positive affirmations and have them near your bedside so you can draw on them when needed.

2) Move to another room in the house and engage in an activity for example watering the plants or listening to music. Awaken your senses by breathing in some fresh air in the garden or smelling some essential oils. Distract yourself with a small job like folding clothes or dusting and use this as an opportunity to do something different in the mornings.

3) Plan your morning the night before, prepare a nice breakfast with a special treat, pack your bags and choose an outfit. By doing some tasks in advance the mornings will seem much more manageable.

4) Be kind to yourself. Every day tasks like making the bed or washing up can seem overwhelming when living with a mental health condition. Don't try to do everything. Set yourself one goal at a time and acknowledge every achievement.

5) Remember things will get easier. Your therapist can support you to manage mornings and it is important to talk about how you are feeling so you can reflect on the progress you have made. Reward and praise yourself for every positive step you take and try not to be self-critical if things don't always go to plan.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and not rscpp.co.uk.