We've all been there. You put on your pj's, brush your teeth, and hop in bed, only to find yourself staring up at the ceiling unable to fall asleep. Here are 10 things you can try - that don't include refreshing your social media apps for the 17th time that day.
1. Write in a Journal (With an Actual Pen and Paper) - Sometimes we simply can't fall asleep because we have a lot on our minds. Take out that notebook and jot your thoughts down. Research has shown that journaling and focusing on positive thoughts can calm your mind and help you sleep better. Try taking 10-15 minutes each night before you go to bed to write about your day. You might be surprised at how much journaling can relieve your stress.
2. Don't Watch the Clock - Constantly checking the time can lead to stress and anxiety about not getting enough sleep. Turn your clock around and try not to worry about the time.
3. Keep Your Room and Body Cool - Not having a cool enough room is a common mistake people make when trying to sleep. Here are a few ways you can keep cool at night and start snoozing:
- Sleep naked. Sleeping naked cools your body off, and feels good too! No one likes to sleep with tight clothing on. Sleeping naked also makes you more confident and more comfortable with your body and self-image.
- Cool down your room. Take advantage of that night-time air and open up your windows. The fresh air feels nice and you'll save on A.C. Of course, if where you live is too hot, crank up that A.C.
- Take a warm shower. After you take a warm shower, your body temperature drops because of your cooler bedroom.This drop in body temperature is your brain's cue to make you sleep, and slow down your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion. Keep your shower short and not too hot.
4. Roll Your Eyes - Rolling your eyes is similar to the eye movement you make during sleep. It triggers the brain to release the natural sleep hormone, melatonin.
5. Practice Box-Breathing - If you breathe the right way it can help relax your mind and body and help you fall asleep. Here's how to do it:
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly.
- Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four.
- Begin to slowly exhale all the air for 4 seconds.
- Repeat the above steps at least three times.
6. Try To Stay Awake - Challenging yourself to stay awake might seem counterintuitive, but here's why it works: Has someone every told you not to think about something ("don't think about elephants!"), and then that's all you see in your mind? (I bet you're thinking about elephants now). The same thing happens when you tell yourself, "I'm not going to sleep." Your brain takes that as an instruction to sleep and soon after you'll start to feel sleepy.
7. Have A Consistent Bedtime - Going to bed at the same time each day can help set your circadian rhythm, which refers to a selection of behavioral, physical, and mental changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. When you have a consistent bedtime, it helps your internal clock predict when it's time to induce sleep.
8. Avoid Caffeine - Try to have that last cup of coffee by 2 p.m. Caffeine is a stimulant and can disrupt your sleep.
9. Exercise - It's common knowledge that exercising has endless benefits to our physical and mental health. It's no surprise that exercise helps with sleep too. Exercising can improve your quality of sleep, as well as increase the amount of time you sleep. Exercising also helps to reduce stress and relieve anxiety, which can help with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week to experience the benefits of exercise on sleep.
10. Try Counting - The oldest trick in the book. Try counting backwards from 100, slowly. There are different ideas on why counting can help put you to sleep, but some common ones include boring you to sleep, as well as distracting you from anxious thoughts that might be keeping you up.