A person might struggle to get to sleep every night, despite being tired, for various reasons. The first and simplest reason to remedy is that perhaps your bedroom just isn’t sleep-friendly. We all like to have a bright, vibrant room, but it’s important to sleep in a cool, dark environment.
Take a look around your bedroom tonight before you jump into bed. Is it dark enough? Perhaps you like having a bit of light in there in case you get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and that’s fine, but the light could be what’s keeping you awake.
A lot of people will keep the hallway light on, when in actual fact it would be better to turn that light off and turn on the bathroom light if it’s a bit further away, or another light that still gives off sufficient glow in your room without lighting it up like a Christmas tree.
The main thing with the lighting is just to not have artificial light of any kind (this includes alarm clocks, laptops, television screens) shining in your face while you’re trying to get to sleep. Your brain actually gets confused by the abundance of light and thinks it mustn’t be time to go to sleep.
Have you ever noticed that you find it harder to get to sleep in summer than in winter? You’re restless, you’re sweaty, you’re kicking the sheets off and tossing and turning… Whereas winter, you get all rugged up and cozy under your blanket and drift off to sleep all wrapped up like a caterpillar in its cocoon.
Generally for us humans, anywhere between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for us to be sleeping in, so do whatever you have to do to get your room down (or up) to this temperature. Aside from the obvious innovations like a fan or air conditioning, it helps to keep the curtains pulled and the room dark over the coarse of the day while you’re at work so as to keep the sun’s warming rays out as much as possible.
Once you get into the habit of falling asleep while watching TV in bed, it can be incredibly difficult to shake that bad habit. But sleeping in total silence is far better for you, and you’ll notice you sleep ten times better, too.
If you absolutely must have some kind of background noise when you go to sleep, try putting on some quiet ambient sounds like those rainforest playlists or beach sounds with whale noises or whatever.
If you are going to listen to this kind of thing or have music on quietly, it’s much better to have it playing through speakers at a low volume rather than put your earphones in. Oh, and another tip for the music? The less vocals, the better. Soothing, instrumental music with no lyrics to occupy your brain will help clear your mind and prepare you for sleep.
Improve Physical Comfort
You’re not going to get to sleep if you’re physically uncomfortable in your own bed. There are plenty of simple things that don’t always cross our minds to do, like flipping a hot pillow, sticking a pillow or cushion between our thighs to sleep on our side more comfortably, removing a pyjama shirt that we’re getting all tangled up and hot and bothered in, etc.
Another technique you can use without the cost of better quality bedding or sleep-aiding medication is to fashion your very own homemade sleep mask out of ties or pillowcases. It’s pretty easy to roll up some fabric and use it as a cover for your eyes, and if you want to take things to next level, you can even tuck other rolled up material into either side of the blindfold to cover your ears and block out street noise.
Sure, you might look ridiculous but you’ll get the last laugh when you wake up refreshed and well rested in the morning. In the hot summer months, it doesn’t hurt to soak the blindfold in cold water and then rinse it out so it’s damp, either. Nothing beats that first moment when you put the cold damp sleep mask over your eyes on a muggy night.
When it comes to tense or sore muscles, while nothing beats a massage, there are a number of things you can do.
For back pains, try to find a doorframe somewhere in your house that is appropriate for you to hang from by your hands for a good minute or so. We’re not talking pull-ups here; just dangle from the doorframe.
This gives your back a chance to realign itself and let gravity ease your muscles back to how they should be. You might find that doing this every couple of nights will take away back pains and aid your comfort in bed.
Or else, simply running through each area of your body once in bed starting with your toes, clenching that body part for seven seconds and then releasing, is said to loosen up your muscles and if you concentrate on each region hard
enough as you do this, you should literally be able to feel yourself sinking into the mattress bit by bit as your muscles release. According to experts on the subject, the chest is where you will find the most difficulty in this exercise.
Some of the more macho guys out there will immediately dismiss these two suggestions but a warm glass of milk or a bubble bath certainly don’t hurt your chances of dozing off quicker too.
Improve Mental Comfort
As irritating as physical discomfort might be, you’ve still got a better chance of falling asleep under that scenario than if you’re stressed out or anxious. The whole idea behind unconsciousness is to relax enough to allow yourself to drift off into sleep, after all.
The first thing you should try is to read right before going to sleep. You might not think of yourself as much of a reader but perhaps that’s the problem! The right genre of narrative is out there for everyone; you just need to find a good book and reserve it for your nighttime reading.
There is no better way to shrug off all the dramas you have experienced throughout the day (whether they be work, social, romantic, or something else) than by engaging yourself in a compelling story. It seriously clears your brain of any stressful thoughts and takes you away to a different place where the problems aren’t your own.
After reading for as little as ten minutes, you should find it easier to doze off while you think about the events that just occurred in the book, rather than that electricity bill you haven’t paid or that project you’re behind on.
In this fast-paced 21 st Century, we humans need an imaginary escape more than ever before. And if reading isn’t helping you forget your worries and woes – find a better book.
There are also plenty of mental exercises to help you relax and drift off. In this realm, your options are virtually limitless. There are of course the obvious ones like thinking of boring things, thinking of black, or a short conversation with a friend (call, text, whatever) to put you at ease or appease loneliness.
Then there are your more “out there” techniques, such as running through everything you can sense in your head – as in, you hear that dog barking next door, you taste the toothpaste on your teeth, you feel your feet poking out the bottom of the blanket, etc.
Apparently by doing this, you are acknowledging each of these sensations and therefore you can dismiss them from your mind. Or perhaps the reason this works for people is that you’re lying there rattling off a boring list in your head – but hey, whatever works!
Stretching can be as much of a psychological thing as it is a physical tension releaser. Sometimes simply the act of stretching is enough to get you yawning and falling asleep on the spot. Don’t be embarrassed about bringing each knee up to your chin when you first get into bed every night and holding it there until you feel your hamstrings relax.
Others have sworn by the trick where you get comfortable, stay still, shut your eyes, and pretend that you are floating in space or hovering over jungles or rainforests. This kind of forced daydreaming is said to help you make the transition into actual dreaming, and fools your muscles into a more relaxed state.
Improve Daily Activities
If you are still having trouble getting to sleep every night after giving these techniques an honest effort, than your problem must be the result of a deeper problem, and that is most likely a crucial flaw in your daily routine, or something you are doing or not doing in your everyday activities.
As a last resort for none of the above working, simply get up and do something. You will never tire yourself out just laying there in bed waiting to fall asleep. Get up and watch some familiar television, do a chore, even pop outside for a nighttime stroll – anything to exhaust this energy you still have built up inside you.
But in the long term, this isn’t a solution. You might find the best solution is to start to monitor and take notes of how much you exercise (should be at least 30 minutes a day), what you’re eating (an appropriate balance of proteins and carbohydrates, etc.) and you’re general frame of mind. If the main cause of your restlessness is anxiety each night, then that is something a doctor needs to help you out with.
Generally, anyone who has even a mildly satisfactory diet and is getting enough exercise shouldn’t have any trouble sleeping. Sleeping pills or herbal remedies can be extremely helpful but at the same time, you don’t want to grow dependent on them to get to sleep.
Rather than turning to medication, it might be healthier to give something like yoga or another form of meditation a try, and see if that makes a difference. So good luck, good night, and sweet dreams!