It seems like I’ve always had some kind of issue with sleeping. When I was a teenager it was sleep paralysis (which is absolutely terrifying). When I was in my early twenties I had long bouts of insomnia, and it my later twenties I would occasionally sleepwalk. The last few months, I have been having trouble with both falling asleep and staying asleep, which is one of the symptoms of my anxiety.
As a result, over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help myself get a better night’s sleep.
Sleep is immensely important for several reasons, including:
- it helps your brain function properly and improves your ability to learn
- sleep gives your body time to repair your heart and blood vessels
- it allows your body to control your hormones
- people who are sleep deprived are more likely to be obese
Here are six tips to help you fall asleep and get the proper amount of rest that your body needs to function:
1. Stick to a routine
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sticking to a consistent routine can help your body get used to falling asleep and waking up at certain times. This is definitely something that has helped me immensely, especially when I went from working third shift to having to get up for almost three months of 8am-4pm training shifts when I switched jobs. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, so figure out the hours you can devote to sleeping and stick to it for several weeks to see if it helps.
2. Avoid blue light
Blue light comes from most of our modern-day electronics, and can seriously disrupt our ability to sleep well. Blue light tricks your brain into believing that it’s daytime, which affects your ability to fall asleep.
There are several ways to avoid blue light. The first is the most obvious – just turn off your phone, laptop, or whatever else you’re taking to bed with you. If that’s not an option, most newer electronics include a feature in your settings to block blue light. There are also glasses you can buy that blocks that light.
3. Herbs, teas, and natural medicines
During my worst bout of insomnia in my late twenties, I felt like I tried almost everything to fall asleep, at one point resorting to taking a full dose of NyQuil Sleep even though I wasn’t sick (not something I recommend, by the way). Here are a few things that helped me the most:
- Hot, non-caffeinated tea (such as Yogi Tea’s Bedtime or Caramel Bedtime teas, Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Extra, or just some good ol’ plain Chamomile tea).
- Melatonin. Both my boyfriend and I use melatonin frequently when we have trouble falling asleep, and it definitely helps us. Melatonin is a hormone that is usually made naturally in your body, but some people have less, due to things such as that blue light we talked about earlier. There aren’t many side effects, although occasionally Melatonin can affect how certain medications work, so you might want to run it by a doctor first.
- Valerian root. I’ve never taking valerian root myself, but I have a friend who swears by it. It can be used for sleep issues, anxiety, and stress, and acts as a sedative on the brain.
4. Keep Your Room Cool
Many people have trouble sleeping in rooms that are too warm, and there have even been studies done that showed that temperature can affect your quality of sleep more than noise. Everyone enjoys a different temperature, so find the right one for you and turn down your heat a bit at night.
5. Have a pre-sleep routine
This goes hand in hand with the first tip of keeping a consistent sleep schedule. Creating an evening routine is one of my new year’s resolutions for 2019.
Experiment to make your routine your own. Some ideas that you can include:
- relaxing yoga sequence
- a hot bath
- reading a book, preferably one that is physical in order to keep that blue light away
- deep breathing
- listening to relaxing music
There are endless ways to create an evening routine for yourself, so figure out what works for you.
6. Exercise daily
Exercise is not only good for controlling your weight and making you stronger but it also allows you to get deeper and better sleep. That doesn’t mean that you need to go to a way-too-strenuous CrossFit session every single day, but try to include some kind of physical activity into your daily routine. Plus, exercising has so many other great benefits.
I hope these tips help you to get a good night’s sleep. I know all of these suggestions have improved the quality of my sleep over the years, and on those days I wake up after sleeping well, I notice all sorts of great benefits, including being more focused, more creative, and generally happier.
How do you get to sleep when you’re lying awake at night? Let me know in the comments!