1. Stop all caffeine intake by 3 pm. I know some of you read that and are internally screaming but it’s true. Caffeine can really upset our sleep schedules. Personally, I don’t really have a problem doing this because I am not a huge fan of caffeine simply because of how it affects me. However I know this is a problem for a lot of people but it is one of the simpler solutions on this list. Try to switch your evening brew to a lower caffeine content beverage like herbal tea or even decaf.
2. Make your room dark. How easy is it to sleep in a brightly lit room? Biologically, humans are affected to bright light because in ancient times, the sun was our signal to wake up. Modern day humans still work in this way. A good way to fix a bright room is to buy black out curtains, as well as to avoid having any brightly illuminated gadgets lying around the bedroom as well. Turn digital clocks away from the bed, put a towel under the door if there is a space, and, if you live in a dorm, cover your peephole with a few sticky notes. Everything will help in making the room darker.
3. Drink a warm beverage. My go to before bed beverage is herbal tea (you know, the yogi brand I mentioned in a previous post?) It helps calm you down and makes you feel warm, which can be a huge help if you live in a chilly apartment or house. Also, if you drink a lavender tea, you get bonus points. Speaking of lavender….
4. Diffuse some lavender essential oil. Or, alternatively, light a lavender scented candle. Lavender is a huge aid in helping with insomnia as well as other neurological issues. It calms the nervous system and actually affects how our neurons work when exposed to it.
5. Shut off your electronics an hour before you turn in for the night. You’ve heard this over and over again but it’s absolutely true. Exposure to blue light from our phones can greatly affect our sleep cycle. Blue light registers in our brain like the midday sky would, which tells our senses that it is actually midday. This can actually stop the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. If you aren’t too keen on losing the phone before bed, try an app like twilight, it was created to help with this blue light problem.
6. Work out at some point during the day. Working out can help you feel tired when it comes to going to bed. Make sure though, that you aren’t exercising less than 3 hours before your bed time. This can actually energize you and make it harder to fall asleep. Being active is healthy for you overall, but the fact that it helps with sleep also makes it basically necessary.
7. Stay out of your bed as much as possible. I am a huge offender of this, but lying in bed while you do anything other than sleep is detrimental to your sleeping pattern. The reason behind this is because if you keep your bed for strictly sleeping, you are conditioning your brain, so that when you go to lie down, your brain knows that it is time to sleep. If you use your bed for things like working, watching TV/Netflix/ or just chilling, you are teaching your brain that your bed doesn’t = a place of sleep. Try to keep your bed use to just sleeping and sex. Do everything else in another room or simply off the bed.
8. Take a warm bath. Who doesn’t love a warm bath?!? I know I have better nights when I am able to take a warm bath during the evening. It’s relaxing and is meant to melt tension. Again, bonus points if you can get lavender body wash or a lavender bath bomb.
9. Consider what you consume before bed. Things like alcohol, caffeine and foods that sit heavy in your stomach can disrupt your sleep. However things like cherry juice, foods rich in tryptophan (cheese, milk, nuts, poultry, tofu, fish, soy), as well as supplements such as valerian root and melatonin are all very widely used to help individuals fall asleep. (However don’t drink too much milk before bed if you’re afraid of weight gain. I learned this the hard way. 1 glass works just fine.)
10. Meditate. Now this might seem corny, but it’s absolutely true that finding your Zen and meditating can be incredibly helpful in healthy sleep patterns. Meditation, at its core, is to think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. Usually, when it’s implemented in aiding sleep, it has the individual focus on their breathing, as well as sensations all over the body. It makes the person aware of the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or fearing the future (which can cause anxiety and destroy a good night’s sleep.) There are plenty of apps that use guided mediation; a popular one at the moment is called Headspace, so feel free to check that one out.
11. Avoid taking naps during the day. I love naps, but it’s absolutely true that taking naps can ruin your sleep for the following night. If you can’t help it, try to keep naps to 30 minute maximum. Sleeping during the day is a sure fire way to prevent you from sleeping at night.
12. Do some yoga. Yoga taps into your nervous system in a way that can relax you and relieve stress, making it easier to sleep. There are hundreds of articles and posts regarding yoga for better sleep on Pinterest if you’re interested in giving it a shot.
13. Put the temperature a tiny bit lower. Being too hot can sabotage your sleep. To avoid this, try putting the temperature in your living space a little lower than you would if you were awake. Lower temperatures biologically help us sleep better. This way you can feel comfortable and still be able to snuggle in your blankets.
14. Use some white noise. Okay so some people don’t understand this, but I’ve been doing it my entire life. White noise from a white noise machine, a fan or even an app can drastically help you sleep. White noise works in the way that it is able to cancel the little sounds that pop up in the middle of the night and disturb your sleep. It’s nifty because it neutralizes all the sounds that you might encounter throughout the night (It’s especially helpful if you live in a city or in a dorm, or even if you live with pets that like to walk around at all hours of the night.)
And if you find you’ve woken up, but can’t get back to sleep in less than 20 minutes…
15. Get out of bed and read something boring. …But not on your phone or computer. Try to read a boring book or newspaper article. Non-stimulating material will aid us in feeling tired again.
16. And whatever you do, DON’T WATCH THE CLOCK. Seriously. That will bug you out more than you want it too. It is incredibly sabotaging because it can give you sleep anxiety. (Sleep anxiety is when you can’t fall asleep, so you stress out because you can’t fall asleep but the stress makes it even harder to get to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, and watching the clock brings to your attention the fact that you still aren’t sleeping. It’s better not to go down that rabbit hole. Trust me.)
In all seriousness though, if you can’t sleep and it’s affecting your life, talk to a doctor. They might have better solutions or be able to get you a sleep aid, or, you know, figure out why you aren’t sleeping in the first place.