At some time in our lives everybody will have trouble getting to sleep. You lie in bed tossing and turning with your mind racing about work, relationships, finances or the big event that is going to happen the next day.
1. Get into the habit of winding down before you go to bed.
Spend 20-30 minutes doing something relaxing or boring. This can include reading a book, washing the dishes, or patting a pet. This will help slow your mind down and relax.
2. Don’t eat a big meal before going to bed, and preferably have nothing except a small snack in the 3 hours before you go to bed.
3. Make your bed your sleep space.
Don’t watch TV or do work in bed so that your mind will automatically link your bed with relaxation. Use your bed for sleep and sex only.
4. Limit daytime sleep to no more than a 20 minute power nap.
5. Try a glass of warm milk before you go to bed.
Dairy foods are a good source for the amino acid tryptophan that your body converts to melatonin and serotonin. Both of these are thought to induce sleep. Other foods containing tryptophan include bananas, oats, chicken, turkey and nuts.
6. Have a night time routine to prepare for sleep.
This can include a set routine of getting into your nightwear, going to the toilet and brushing your teeth.
7. Don’t exercise shortly before bed, as this will make you more alert.
However, make sure you do have exercise during the day as people who exercise tend to sleep better.
8. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
Draw the curtains and blinds and if you have trouble blocking enough light out then consider wearing an eye shade to bed like many people use when flying. If you sleep with a partner and go to bed at different times then have an agreement that the second one to bed will not turn the main light on.
9. If you are a smoker then don’t have a smoke before bedtime as nicotine is a stimulant and can stop you falling asleep quickly.
10. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and alcohol may make you fall asleep more quickly but the quality of your sleep is lessened. Also excessive drinking before bedtime may result in having to visit the bathroom in the early hours of the morning.
11. You will sleep best if the room is quiet.
If you live where there is constant traffic noise, do what you can to make your room soundproof by closing doors and windows. If noise bothers you then consider wearing earplugs to bed, or get a white noise generator. The hum of a small fan can help in overcoming outside noise.
12. You won’t sleep well if you are too hot or too cold.
Make sure you use appropriate bedding for the season. Also having a warm shower or bath shortly before going to bed helps, as it raises your body temperature, and as it drops afterwards your body becomes sleepy.
13. If you have a bedside clock chose one that doesn’t tick as some nights you will find it stops you from sleeping.
Also a digital readout in red is less disruptive to sleep than blue or green. If the clock gives out too much light than angle it away from you or drape a cover across it.
14. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows with the desired level of support and firmness or softness.
15. Lavender oil sprinkled on the pillow promotes rest, and there are other aromatherapy oils available that many people find useful in helping them sleep.
16. If you sleep with a partner and they are already asleep then try matching your breathing to theirs to help you fall asleep.
Some people also find sleeping with a pet can help, especially a purring cat.
17. When sleep won’t come try singing a lullaby in your head.
18. Deep breathing, meditation and self hypnosis are techniques that can be easily learned and applied to help you sleep.
19. If your mind is racing think of impossible fantastic things like multicoloured flowers growing from your ceiling then turning into rabbits and scampering away.
The weirder the better, and before you know it you will be asleep.
20. Make sure your nightwear is loose and comfortable, or sleep naked if you prefer.
21. Make sure that your tongue and jaw are relaxed.
If you are clenching your teeth or your jaw is set then you will find it harder to sleep.
22. Avoid confrontations before bed.
This may be easier said than done, but avoid silly arguments with your family over bills or anything else before you want to sleep.
23. Sleep is basically a lowered state of consciousness.
Try to get to sleep faster by simply focusing on the darkness when you close your eyes Try to let no other thoughts into your mind. If you can master this trick it will help you fall asleep in a couple of minutes.
24. If nothing is working and you have been trying to get to sleep for more than 15 minutes then get out of bed and do something relaxing for a short period.
It can be reading a magazine article, listening to soft music or staring out the window. As soon as you feel sleepy go back to bed.
25. Try and get into the habit of waking up and going to the sleep at the same time each day.
Your body will get into the routine, making it easier to fall asleep at the same time each night.
Making lifestyle changes can be difficult so you shouldn’t try and implement all these tips at the same time, but adopt one or two at a time until you have a more comfortable routine. Eventually you should find it easier to fall asleep quickly each night. If you try them all and still have trouble sleeping then it is probably time to consult a doctor, as there may be medical reasons why you are having sleepless nights.