Falling asleep and staying asleep can sometimes be difficult, especially for those of us who are light sleepers. It’s even worse for people with insomnia or sleep apnea issues. A sleepless night can occur due to a number of reasons, like stress, a sleep disorder, the amount of coffee you drank, or possibly the action-thriller movie you just watched. There are also times when there is no special reason; you are just wide awake.
9 Tips on Falling Asleep
Here are some tips for getting a good night’s rest sooner, rather than later:
1. There are different sleep cycles that a person must follow in order to feel the most rested. Try using a sleep cycle calculator or alarm application to help you calculate when you should get up based on what time you plan to go to sleep. For more info, visit http://www.northcube.com/health/.
2. Establish a bedtime routine. Plan to change into comfortable clothes and get ready for bed at the same time every night. If you like a calming tea, drink it regularly at the same time before going to bed. Routine is a plus.
3. Take a warm bath. If your joints or muscles are achy, you can also try putting Epsom salt. (Optional.) This will help relieve body stress. A hot shower can be equally soothing.
4. Consider aromatherapy. For example, lavender oil helps someone naturally relax and can relieve headaches when rubbing it on your temples. Lavender oil acts as a sleep inducing agent when spraying it on your pillow.
5. Try warm milk, which contains a sleep-inducing natural amino acid called tryptophan.
6. If you want to have a snack, then nuts, cheese, or tuna fish are good options. If you are tempted to add a cookie with your milk, make sure it is sugar free. Otherwise, the sugar will keep you up.
7. Deep breathing and relaxing stretches or movement can be helpful.
8. Of course, there is the tried and true method of reading a book for 15-20 minutes in a comfortable chair or on your bed. Comfort leads to relaxation, which often leads to sleep.
9. In severe or persistent cases, medical assistance may be needed.
What Not to Do
1. Stress or worries of the day can be sleep robbers. So, rather than working to fix unresolved issues well into the night, try shelving them by jotting them down in a notebook. It’s usually a lot easier to think more clearly the next day, after the mind has had a chance to rest.
2. Doing rigorous exercise two to three hours before bedtime. Any strenuous exercises, though healthy, will increase your heart rate and make you feel more awake.
3. Watch a movie or television show. Though falling asleep in front of the tube happens, it is not the best way to ensure a good night’s rest. For anyone already having trouble sleeping, watching an engaging story played out on the screen can increase their mind engagement, which works against the goal of relaxing your mind when going to sleep.
Spending long hours away from natural light, for example, can impact your daytime wakefulness and make your brain sleepy. Increasing your melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep onset, is crucial.
1. Increase natural light exposure during the day by doing the following:
a. If you work in an office, spend time outside on your breaks and lunch time, if the weather permits.
b. Move your desk closer to a window. If your eyes are sensitive to light, then try adjusting the blinds to your personal comfort level.
c. If possible, use a light therapy box that simulates sunshine indoors for winter days.
2. Boost melatonin production at night, as follows:
a. Bright lights at night, like those projected from a television or computer screen, can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, making it harder to sleep.
b. Listen to music or an audio book.
c. If you must use an iPad or an eReader, it is best to use one that is not backlit and requires a bedside lamp. You can also try adjusting the backlight on iPads and some eReaders.
d. Use low-wattage light bulbs to lessen the amount of artificial light exposure. Again, bright lights at night make it harder to sleep.
e. Make your room dark when sleeping. (If you need a nightlight… well, ok.)
f. Use a flashlight at night when getting up to use the bathroom during the night.
Sleep is often underrated. Rest is essential to do what you love to do and to do it well. A lack of sleep affects your mood, productivity, and health. Find a day to hit the “sleep button” and have a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams!