Fall Sleep Faster and Feel More Rested
If you’re wondering how to get through those nights when your nice, cozy bed feels like a bed of nails and you can’t fall asleep, you’re not alone. According to the Better Sleep Council, millions of Americans suffer from insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
Insufficient sleep – A public health problem
Sleep deprivation has become the American way of life. It’s no surprise there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, but going full-tilt boogey until bedtime can wreak havoc on your ability to fall asleep and overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled insufficient sleep as a public health problem, citing increased medical concerns, such as cancer, diabetes and obesity as well as escalated industrial and vehicular accidents as a result,
Worrying about not being able to fall asleep is enough to make you lose even more zzzz’s, especially at 3 a.m., when every horrible thought you can imagine is making its way through your brain. It may seem counter-intuitive to add another item to your to do list, but actively preparing your mind and body for sleep can help. If counting sheep is no longer working for you, try these strategies, instead.
Make Your Bed Each Morning
Getting into an unmade, rumpled bed at night can eliminate the sensation of transitioning from daytime into sleep time, making you feel like a runaway train, not able to make any stops. Making your bed each day and then, turning your bed into a haven for sleep at night, can become part of a powerful night time routine, able to propel you into slumber.
Take Time to Wind Down
The faster you fall asleep, the more sleep you’ll get, but getting ready for sleep is a process, not an immediate action, like turning off a switch. The Better Sleep Council’s recommendations for getting a healthy night’s rest include creating a sleep ritual you can count on, which includes at least one hour of wind-down time. Things that can help include:
o Turning off electronic devices, including phones, computers and the television
o Reading a good paperback book just before lights out
o Avoiding the evening news and other upsetting stimuli
o Taking a warm bath or shower
o Doing gentle yoga, deep breathing or stretching
Watch What You Ingest
Some people swear by a glass of warm milk and honey. Others benefit from a cup of chamomile tea. There are a number of things you can eat or drink which may help your body relax and ready itself for sleep. Others to avoid include:
o Alcohol, a depressant, can interfere with sleep patterns, plus cause dehydration which can inhibit the ability to fall or stay asleep.
o Caffeine, a stimulant, can keep your mind on red alert if you have had too much during the day or a cup of coffee or cola too late at night.
o Eating heavy meals during evening hours night can also interfere with your ability to sleep.
o Take note of any medications you are on, to determine if insomnia is a side effect. If so, discuss the issue with your doctor, to weigh the medication’s benefits against your insomnia.
Try writing down everything you eat and drink for a week and correlate it with your ability to fall sleep on those nights. Notice if there is a pattern you can rectify.
Create a Comfortable Environment
A too-warm room can make it harder to fall asleep, as can a cluttered environment. Make sure your bedroom is free of distractions, such as work-related papers and crack open a window or set the thermostat down to a comfortable, cool temperature. Some people also benefit from removing clocks from their vision, so that they can’t check the time continually when they can’t sleep.
Do a Brain Cleanse
Even if the bills need to get paid, or you have to schedule an anxiety-producing talk with your daughter, 2:00 a.m. is not the time to plot out those strategies. During the evening, make it a habit to write a next day to-do list. If it’s down on paper, it’s out of your head and won’t keep you awake. Try to include at least one pleasant item on your list to look forward to.
Not getting enough sleep can sap the effectiveness out of your days, plus become an ongoing, perpetuating problem. Trying these strategies may help, but if you find the situation not improving or worsening, consider having a conversation with your doctor to assess any physical issues, such as sleep apnea or uncontrolled depression, which may be causing you to miss out on delicious sleep.