Do you ever have trouble sleeping? Maybe you have a hard time falling asleep, or maybe you wake up after a short time and can’t get back to sleep. Either way, sleepless nights can have a huge impact on the rest of your life. When you’re sleep deprived, it’s harder to focus and it often isn’t so great for mental well being.
I’ve struggled with both of these types of insomnia and have found a few techniques that help immensely.
Get Into a Routine
Whether your sleep problems start the moment you get into bed or you wake up in the night, it can help if you take a look at your pre-bedtime and bedtime routine.
- Stay conscious of your screen time. Many of us stare at screens all day for work. All of that light can really mess with your body’s internal clock. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try limiting your computer use and TV watching as bedtime approaches to give your mind time to wind down.
- Dim the lights early. Like the screen problem, artificial lights can trick our bodies into staying up. Try switching over to lamp light an hour or so before bedtime. I have a friend who wears special sunglasses in the evenings to help his brain wind down toward bedtime. He says he’s been sleeping better since starting that habit.
- Your bed should be for sleeping and for sex. If you tend to sit in bed and work on projects or watch TV, try moving these activities to another area.
- Exercise, but not too late. Getting regular exercise can help even out your sleep. Don’t work out too close to bedtime, though, as that can make it hard to doze off. Try to allow at least a couple of hours between working out and hitting the hay.
- Limit food and drink before bed. This is especially important if you’re struggling with middle of the night wake-ups. Don’t eat or drink for that last hour before bed, if you can, and make sure you use the bathroom before heading to bed.
- Cut the caffeine. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about your morning coffee! If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try limiting your caffeine intake to the morning. Coffee or even caffeinated tea in the evenings can contribute to tossing and turning.
Up Next: Tips and Techniques for Sleepless Nights.
Tips and Techniques
- Check that mattress. Flipping your mattress over can make a huge difference. Your tossing and turning could be related to discomfort. If your mattress is quite old and flipping doesn’t help, you might look into a replacement.
- Don’t just lie there. If you’ve been staring at the ceiling for some time and it’s clear you’re not going to fall asleep, get out of bed. Find a comfortable chair where you can knit, read, or do any other relaxing activity until you’re ready to crawl back into bed again.
- Breathe. Whether you’ve woken in the night or just gotten into bed, focusing on taking long, deep breaths can help you quiet your mind and drift into dreamland.
- Don’t look at the clock. When you’re lying awake in bed, it’s normal to want to roll over and see how long before the alarm goes off. Don’t do it! Sleep math like this will just increase your anxiety and make it harder to snooze. Keep a napkin or washcloth by the bed and cover that clock if you have to.
- Relax. If deep breaths aren’t doing the trick, you might try a more elaborate relaxation technique. Roll onto your back with your arms by your sides, and envision a slow wave of relaxation starting at your toes and moving up your body all the way to your face and the top of your head. Take time to feel each part of your body release any tension. More often than not, you’ll nod off in the process!
If none of these are helping and insomnia is really disrupting your daily life, you might want to talk to your doctor.