There are those who sleep well and those who don’t.
If you’re among the group of people who struggle to fall asleep, then you know how difficult it is to walk through life feeling exhausted.
Then by the time you arrive in bed, you’re awake once again.
It’s difficult to say why some people are naturally inclined toward sleeping well while others aren’t.
But when you’re lying in bed awake every night, it hardly matters. You’re only concerned about one thing:
What You Can Do to Fall Asleep
While the pharmacy is well stocked with sleep aids – both OTC and prescription – we’re looking at drug-free ways you can begin to explore in order to fall asleep more easily.
With some practice and diligence, you could soon be sleeping through the night.
1. Incorporate Movement During the Day
Those who regularly exercise get a better night’s sleep than those who don’t.
The specific form of exercise you choose is not as important as the time of day you choose to do it.
For example, you wouldn’t want to take an exciting Zumba class an hour before you’re planning to go to bed. The heightened endorphins aren’t going to help you relax.
On the other hand, a mind-quieting physical activity like yoga before bed could be just what you need to settle your mind.
Whatever you choose, just keeping the body in motion with some regularity is not only a good thing to help you sleep, but it will affect your overall health.
2. Try a New Pillow/Mattress
You might have the wrong pillow. If you’re a stomach sleeper, your pillow should be flat so you’re not wrenching your neck. But if you’re a side sleeper, you want a firmer pillow that will fill that space between your shoulder and ear.
If you’ve had your pillow for over 18 months, it’s probably full of dust mites and it’s time to replace it. A build-up of dust mites is enough to trigger allergies in some people.
Switching out your pillow could do wonders for your sleep.
But your tossing and turning could be the result of an uncomfortable or unsupportive mattress too. If you’ve had it more than 10 years, it’s a good idea to start researching a new one. Yeah, it can be a big expense, but the payoff could just be better sleep.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
This one is so simple, but can be amazingly effective.
Keep a blank notebook near your bed and simply jot down 1-5 things each night for which you’re grateful. Be as brief or as detailed as serves you.
Doing this allows you to reflect on the positive things and events in your life and plant them in your mind just before you close your eyes to sleep.
4. Cut Caffeine Earlier in the Day and Switch to Herbal Tea
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours. So if you’re sipping coffee at 6pm, half of its caffeine content is still pulsing through your system at 11pm.
Consider eliminating caffeine sometime after lunch. And if you must sip on something later in the day, swap it out for herbal tea. Look for teas with chamomile and/or valerian.
Just the comforting ritual of sipping on a hot beverage can be very calming.
5. Try an Aromatherapy Bath
As the brain readies your body for sleep, it drops your body temperature. A warm bath just speeds up this process, by raising your temperature, then dropping it when you exit the tub.
Add the scent of lavender or other calming scents to the bath to encourage even further relaxation.
6. Avoid Screens for 30 Minutes before Bed
The blue light from your television or device screen acts as a stimulant to your brain.
Instead, about 30 minutes before bed, grab a regular book. Clamp on a book light and then snuggle up under the covers.
As soon as your eyes get heavy and you start skipping words, settle in for sleep. If you’re still awake 20 minutes later, try it again – this time in a comfy spot that’s not your bed. And don’t worry if you fall asleep there.
Finally, if you’re enjoying the book too much, then find another one that’s less engaging.
7. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
In spite of its long name, progressive muscle relaxation is pretty simple.
There is a process you can follow. But essentially, it’s just a relaxation exercise wherein you systematically tense and then relax all the muscle groups of your body.
Add in some deep breathing to increase effectiveness.
Studies show that mindfulness meditation can help relieve insomnia and improve sleep.
Find a comfortable spot and close your eyes. You can even do it lying down. Notice your breath moving in and out.
If you have trouble relaxing, create a mantra – an affirmation or sound that you allow to cycle over and over through your mind. It could be something like “I am calm and relaxed.”
Eventually, with practice, your mind will slow down.
9. Keep a Consistent Sleep/Wake Schedule
This includes the weekend too.
If you’re going to bed and getting up at different times throughout the week, this could be contributing to your inability to fall asleep.
Your body operates most efficiently when it is dictated by its natural clock. And that means going to bed and getting up around the same time each day. As soon as you sleep later or start taking long naps, you throw off the rhythm of that clock.
And much like when your clock is thrown off from traveling, you’ll feel jet lagged even when you’ve never stepped on a plane.
9. Keep Your Bedroom Cool and Dark
We’ve already discussed avoiding the light from screens. But even the glow from a digital alarm clock could be enough to disrupt your sleep. So if the clock is a must have, then consider getting an eye-mask.
Along with the darkness, you’ll want to keep your room somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep.
And if your feet tend to get cold easily, cover them with socks. When the extremities are warm, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain its normal temperature. The less the body has to work, the more easily sleep will come.
11. Kick out Your Furry Four-Legged Friends
As comforting as the cuddle might be, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, it’s a good idea to keep your pets out of your bedroom. As nice as that little purr or wag of the tail is, it could be disrupting your sleep.
Plus, the dander from your pets could trigger allergies.
12. Your Bedroom Should Be Just Quiet Enough
Any ticking or whirring sounds from electronics could have an impact on your being able to fall asleep. So get rid of them.
But there’s such a thing as too quiet. In this case, every little sound can become disruptive. If that’s the case, consider earplugs or a white noise machine.
A white noise machine can also help to mask the occasional siren or traffic sounds outside your window, or the heavy breather with whom you share your bed.
While heavy breathing can be disguised by white noise, snoring is another issue.
13. Combat Snoring
Obviously, having a snorer in the room can make it nearly impossible to fall asleep. But even if you’re the one snoring, you’re still losing sleep.
Losing weight and not drinking alcohol before bed could help alleviate snoring.
But snoring can be a sign of something more serious as well, such as sleep apnea. So if the snoring is chronic, you or your partner should be checked for this condition.
Once it’s determined that the snoring is a result of sleep apnea, help is not far. Gone are the days of those bulky sleep machines. In fact, it could be as simple as using a mouthpiece.
To find out more, click on this link to Stop Snoring Mouthpiece: How Using One Could Stop You Snoring and Improve Your Health and start combatting snoring now.
14. Get Out Of Bed
If you’re lying in bed for 20, 30 or 40 minutes every night and still unable to fall asleep, leave your bed.
Staying there night after night is training your brain to associate bedtime with fretting. And soon, your mind will be automatically be triggered to go into hyper mode the minute you go to bed.
Get out of bed and do something else. It could be reading, writing, engaging in a creative project, stretching or whatever takes your mind off the busy day you just had.
Whatever you choose to do, just be sure it doesn’t involve bright light or anything too stimulating.
15. Stop Stressing!
At the heart of all of this is to not stress out about not being able to fall asleep though. It’s a Catch-22. The more anxiety you feel about it, the harder it will be to fall asleep.
Be Patient with Yourself
All of the above is a lot to take in. And incorporating some of these is going to require you to break some habits. That’s never easy.
But you can do it. And by committing to and sticking with some of these routines, you might soon forget how it feels to not easily fall asleep.
And be sure to check back with us for other great hacks to make your life a little easier!