Foolproof Ways to Banish Sleepless Nights
Some people are able to pass out as soon as their head hits the pillow and stay out until their alarm goes off. But insomnia and countless other sleep interruptions are the reason that over half of American adults spend more time praying for sleep than actually sleeping. And unless you’ve discussed insomnia with your doctor and have been formally diagnosed with it, the most common culprit of sleep thievery is anxiety and daytime stress, which almost all of us have experiennced.
So it’s safe to say that at least once in everyone’s life, there comes a night when sleep just isn’t happening. You try all the old methods for summoning sleep that you know, one after one, to no avail. You do everything your mom told you to do growing up when you had a tough time sleeping. You might even try counting sheep. And heck, sometimes those old ways surprise you and actually work!
But some nights, sleep is just stubborn and you’re left tossing and turning, and relying on copious amounts of coffee and fluorescent office lighting to stay awake the next morning. Which is no way to spend your days or nights.
Sleep is a wonderful thing, and for many people, something to look forward to. Getting the right amount of quality sleep can do amazing things for your body and mind, which is why there’s no time to waste and no reason to spend a single night longer struggling to get some decent shuteye.
If you’re ready to finally get the much-deserved rest you’ve been dreaming of, then grab your comfiest pillow, find the perfect sleeping position and keep reading. You’ll thank yourself in the morning!
Power It Down
Just about any medical professional or successful sleeper is going to start off with the same tip when helping you out with your sleep habits: get rid of the electronics in your bedroom and before bed! It seems harmless enough, but your body recognizes the light from your TV, phone, and laptop and continues to believe that it’s daytime. When your body stops finding light and indicates that it’s nighttime, it creates melatonin.
Melatonin is your shuteye superfood. It’s the sleep hormone which allows your body to begin powering down for its long nap.
Back before electricity was so readily available and necessary in our daily lives, it was simple – it got dark, and your body knew to begin winding down. But now that we all use our phones and the TV to try to wind down before bed, the blue light from your devices is really keeping you up and engaged, as much as you may have thought they were doing the opposite. So maybe shut those off and opt for a good book instead.
Keep it Dark
This one seems like a no-brainer. Similar to how scrolling through your social media right before bedtime is going to obstruct your sleep and melatonin production, keeping the lights or a lamp on in your room before you try to get some rest is going to be tough since your body will still believe that it’s daytime – and as enjoyable as midday naps can be, your brain needs to be able to power down and rest in the dark for a while.
During the summer, since days are longer and sunsets are later, this might mean having to make use of things like sleep masks or blackout curtains. It may take a trip or two to the store, but it’ll be worth the effort when you’re getting to sleep without the help of medicine or the many little sheep.
Waking up hot and sweaty is probably on everyone’s top 10 list of most uncomfortable things – so why go to sleep that way?
Even while we’re sleeping and basically unaware of the room’s temperature, our bodies don’t really like being all that hot at night, even in the most comfortable of sleeping positions. Your body temperature actually naturally drops while you’re sleeping, and it can’t do that if the room is hotter than you are (even though you’re pretty hot).
You can take the AC down a few degrees or open a window to get a breeze going through the room. That way even if you’re warm under the covers, the room is still cool enough not to sweat you out.
Disruptive nighttime noises like a snoring partner, train sounds, a barking neighbor dog or whatever else you may have to listen to, are also big reasons a lot of people miss out on sleep.
You should do anything you can to block out these sounds and give yourself some peace. You could invest in a white noise machine or play some soft, slow music while you sleep. Any soft, repetitive sounds while you sleep can be comforting background noise and work well to block out intrusive racket.
Upgrade your bed
Above most things that you can do to improve your sleep, making sure you have a supportive, comfortable mattress. The size and age of both you and your mattress can make a difference in which one is best for you to avoid adding neck and back aches and pains into your list of things to deal with that day.
Mattresses will never be something that you don’t have options on. In fact, it can be overwhelming just how many companies, deals, and different types of mattresses there are out there. Some are better than others, but most will tell you that theirs is the best.
A general rule of thumb though is that the old-style of spring based mattresses aren’t as friendly to your sleep as they used to be thought to be. But even if you have a fancy, high tech mattress, if it’s too small, you’re still likely to be cutting down on the sleep you would be getting if it were the perfect size for you. Which may sound like an extreme feat, but to be concise about it, if you truly want to sleep like a king, you should probably look for something in the king-sized region.
Get Up and Out for 10 Minutes
Waking up in the middle of the night is really common. But usually, most people are able to get right back to sleep. If for some reason you find yourself lying awake for more than 15 minutes or so, you should try to get out of bed and do something for about 10 minutes.
It’s most helpful to do something that requires your head or hands or both – anything that you could use to divert your focus from getting to sleep. Jigsaw puzzles or coloring books and similar things are best for this. Try not to use electronics for this purpose because it’ll actually achieve the exact opposite effect.
“The key is to avoid associating your bed with being awake,” Richard Wiseman, professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire says in his 59 Second video. It’s probably the hardest thing to do to get out of bed if you can’t sleep, but it’s so important if you truly want your bed to be your place of rest.
Hide the Clock
If you’re already having a tough time sleeping, adding awareness of the passing minutes to your tossing and turning is going to do nothing but keep you awake longer. But we do it anyway, because there the clock is, mocking us from the bedside table.
So do yourself a huge favor – hide it. Put it somewhere far enough away that you can’t read it, or move it so that it’s completely out of view. Because staring at the clock while you struggle to sleep only increases your stress, making it harder for you to wind down and actually drift off.
Sleep in Socks
Some researchers from a Swiss study noticed that keeping your hands and feet toasty before and in bed can be a pretty big help in inviting sleep into the equation. Participants in the study used a warm water bottle by their feet to widen surface blood vessels and increase blood flow from their core to their extremities.
This aids in cooling down your body and accelerating melatonin production. Another more simple way of doing this would be to just wear some warm, fuzzy socks to bed if you don’t do this already.
Start Showering at Night
Taking a warm or hot shower is the universally known way to warm up and relax your body. Doing this an hour or so before you head to your cool room and hit the hay can help your body temperature drop for sleep more quickly and produce more melatonin in a shorter span of time. Which effectively equals faster, better sleep. Making this a part of your daily routine can improve your sleep for the long run.
Wash Your Face with Cold Water
Many people are most anxious at the end of the day, due to the buildup of stress throughout the day. A simple fix to this (while it may sound unpleasant) is to rinse your face with the coldest water you can stand.
Submerging your face in ice cold water triggers a phenomenon called the Mammalian Dive Reflex. The involuntary reflex lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Which means afterward you should be headed straight to dreamland with no detours.
Try Not to Fall Asleep
Sounds completely counterintuitive, it’s true. But in this case, this reverse psychology will help to reduce your sleep-centered anxiety and stress. If you’re trying to get to sleep, you can’t stress about not getting enough of it.
A study by the University of Glasgow found that participants who were told to lay in bed with their eyes open were shown to fall asleep faster than those who were told to head to bed as they normally would.
Listen to Music
Multiple studies have shown that any music with a slow tempo and a soft melody, like classical, can help you get to sleep. In a study from 2008, students between 19-28 who listened to classical music for 45 minutes before bed said they’d gotten significantly better sleep than those who hadn’t. And another bonus to this experiment, those who did listen to the music before bed also showed signs of decreased depression.
If you spring to try one of these super helpful tips before bed tonight, get ready for an extra relaxing and restful night of sleep. You’ll be thanking yourself tomorrow!