Sometimes, switching off is easier said than done. No matter how tired you feel, drifting off to sleep just won’t happen.
Once in a while may not be so bad, but if you’re experiencing this on a regular basis, it could be having a detrimental impact on your health. Remember insomnia may be a symptom of a serious underlying illness. If sleeplessness persists continuously for more than 2 weeks, consult your doctor.
Thankfully there are all sorts of simple sleep tips to help you fall asleep – so take a look at the list and try them tonight to see which ones work for you.
Turn off your gadgets
When your body prepares for sleep, it increases production of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you feel sleepier as the sky outside darkens.
This built-in cue to sleep, however, is interrupted by bright lights from the screens of electronics. Many modern relaxation techniques involve laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, and e-readers, which can delay your body’s sleep cycle.
If you face the glow of tech gadgets every evening, you’ll hinder your readiness to doze off later on. What’s more, bedtime texting, e-mailing, gaming, or social media (e.g., Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook) can end your day poorly with added stress or anxiety.
Simply put, try to stay offline an hour before bed and decrease your nighttime use of devices to unwind in a way that’ll help you sleep faster.
Keep it cool
A proven trick for falling asleep faster is to keep your skin warm and your environment cool.
Setting your room temperature to 18 degrees or lower will make your bed feel cozy and inhibit discomfort from night sweats— this is particularly true if you share your bed with a partner.
For best results, take a warm bath or shower a half hour before bed. Ideally, bathe in water above 38 degrees for at least twenty minutes. The raised temperature of your skin after your bath will heighten end-of-day sleepiness once you’ve crawled into bed.
In addition to turning off lights emitted by gadgets, consider the brightness of any fixtures in your bedroom. Bulbs, lamps, and overhead lights may be creating an ambiance that’s too bright for bedtime.
Again, your sleepy-time hormones require darkness to set in. Add a dimmer to your bedroom light switch to set a soft, low-lit warmth while you get ready for bed. Use a book light or low-wattage lamp to read or write once you’re tucked in.
Blackout window curtains or closed blinds will also add to your bedroom’s cave-like feel.
Finally, if the alarm clock on your side table is digital, turn its glow away from you. This will stop its light from keeping you awake and prevent you from watching the clock tick ahead— a form of pressure that results in most people’s tossing and turning.
Reading and writing
Reading in bed is one of the most effective sleep tips to help you fall asleep faster.
But choose your reading material wisely! While most books will reduce stress levels by guiding you on a journey to dreamland, action-packed books or scary horror stories may overstimulate and fuel a restless, fearful mind.
A few chapters of something soothing before bed will take your brain off both the present day’s activities and tomorrow’s agenda.
If you find your brain is still swirling with thoughts, try an easy ‘free writing’ exercise. Without rules, expectations, or an audience, jotting down worries in a journal may help you make sense of your daily stressors.
Putting your thoughts to paper and articulating how you feel can be therapeutic, which softens the edge of anxiety that prevents you from sleeping soundly.
A warm drink before bed is a quick, nutritious way to relax your body and mind.
A caffeine-free beverage without sugar consumed a half hour before bedtime will do the trick, warming your body slowly from the inside out.
Herbal teas, hot water with lemon, or a glass of warm milk with honey are all great sources of sleep-inducing nourishment.
Twists and turns
Bedtime body positioning can be optimized to help you fall asleep more quickly. Sleeping on your back may be keeping you up because it blocks your airways, which leads to snoring.
If you share your bed with a partner, encourage your partner to sleep on his or her side to diminish sounds that disrupt your slumber. Pillows can also be adjusted for greater comfort.
The goal is to sleep with your neck in a straight line, but play with the positioning of pillows (under your arm, between your knees, or under your knees) to find the perfect alignment that feels best for you.
If you want to know how to fall asleep fast, earplugs are great for blocking unwanted noise, especially if total silence is what you need to sleep.
Many people, however, find low-level music or audio tracks soothing at night. Gentle, slow-paced songs can act as lullabies, helping your mind drift towards dreaming. White noise or sounds from nature are peaceful alternatives that help to promote a sense of calm.
An audio book played at a low volume might offer an escape that relaxes your mind. Whether these tracks are downloaded online or played from CDs, they all have their merits as sleep-promoting aids.
If you can’t seem to quiet the thoughts in your head, try tuning into a soft sound outside it.
Follow your nose
Here’s a sleep tip for your senses. The power of scent has been known for ages, so it’s no wonder that certain smells can induce sleepiness.
Studies prove that essential oils encourage your body to let go of tension. Namely, a few drops of lavender oil, chamomile, ylang ylang, or sandalwood on your pillowcase will create a spa-like atmosphere at home.
Some people prefer to rub a drop or two of oil between their palms and inhale the scent deeply, with eyes closed, as an unwinding technique.
Create a pattern
Sleep cycles benefit from an established routine. If you go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, your body will sense when it’s time for rest.
With this in mind, you’re better off avoiding daytime naps. While your office hours and social life combined may add to your feeling of exhaustion, naps lasting longer than twenty minutes will interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.
If you try your best to stay awake throughout the day and evening, in time your scheduled slumber will feel natural as opposed to forced.
Regulating your body’s clock with both a nightly bedtime ritual and a morning alarm will result in many healthful benefits beyond that sought-after good night’s sleep.