Do you feel worn out? Tired all the time?
You’re not alone. Millions of people aren’t getting enough sleep, and since sleep is essential to a person’s health and wellbeing, this lack of sleep can result in many problems including weight gain, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, lack of concentration, irritability and diminished immune response.
Whether you have trouble sleeping on occasion or whether it’s a nightly thing, cultivating good sleep habits will prove to be very helpful when it comes to re-establishing healthy sleep patterns. So here are 10 tips that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep:
1. Go to bed!
It can be tempting to watch one more episode, read one more page, or surf one more website, but this can lead to staying up much later than planned. Engaging in calming activities at least 30 minutes before bed and actually turning the lights (and electronics) off at least 7.5 hours before you need to get up in the morning will do wonders for your physical and mental wellness.
2. Be grateful
Maybe it was a bad day and perhaps you’re tempted to review all that went wrong throughout the day, but resist the urge. Instead, think about what you are grateful for and take the time to write down what’s working well in your life. Remember, it is your choice whether you focus on the positive or the negative and that choice will significantly impact how you feel and consequently how you sleep.
3. Cut down on sugar and caffeine
Let’s be realistic. No one wants to cut out their morning coffee or leave their sweet tooth unsatisfied. The good news is, you don’t have to! However, cutting out as much sugar and caffeine from your diet as possible, especially after supper will be guaranteed to improve your sleep patterns over time.
A regular exercise routine can not only keep you fit, but it can also help you get better sleep, as long as it is not done within 4 hours of going to bed. Getting 30 to 60 minutes of strenuous exercise every day is a great way to meet many of your wellness goals, including a good night’s sleep.
5. Stay away from alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and drugs may seem like the perfect sleep solution, however there is one problem: they don’t work in the long-term. Short-term they may induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep, but they don’t usually keep you asleep the entire night, nor do they promote deep sleep. That’s why many feel just as tired after taking a sleeping pill, even after sleeping all night. Plus they are often habit-forming.
6. Put your problems away
Place a small box on your night stand. When a worry comes up, imagine yourself putting it in the box and remind yourself that it will be there in the morning. If you’re a visual person, you may need to write your problems on a piece of paper and physically put it in the box. Once all of your problems have been put away, imagine a light switch in your brain and flick it off. If your mind wanders back, simply remind yourself that your problems are safely stowed away and do not give yourself permission to re-visit them until morning.
Focus on your breathing. Breathe in for eight counts, hold your breath for four counts, and breathe out for seven counts. Repeat until you fall asleep. This breathing technique not only distracts your mind but also has a real calming effect on your nervous system.
8. Get bored
If you turned the lights off 20 minutes ago and are still not sleeping after practicing the steps listed above, get up and read a very boring book. If you don’t want to get up, then count backwards from 100 without allowing your mind to drift off to other thoughts.
9. Practice common sense
If you’re napping all day, you likely won’t get the best sleep at night so try to avoid naps. Turn your devices off when you go to bed. Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Don’t eat too much before bed but don’t go to bed starving either. Create a sensible bedtime routine that you can stick to consistently.
10. Try natural sleep aids
Talk to a naturopath about natural sleep aids like melatonin, magnesium, essential oils or other herbal remedies.
You may think you’ve tried everything to get over insomnia, but you’ve likely missed a few steps or haven’t practiced them consistently. If you’re serious about sleeping better, start practicing these strategies every day and you’ll be well on your way to getting all the zzzzzz you need!