What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

Monday August 7, 2017 at 1:15pm

What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

Establish a regular bedtime routine.

Find activities that help you wind down before bed, and stick to the same sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.

Don’t smoke.

Need another reason to quit? Smokers commonly exhibit symptoms of insomnia—possibly because their bodies go into nicotine withdrawal during the night.

Limit caffeine.

It’s tempting to reach for coffee when we’re tired after a poor night’s sleep, but drinking caffeine can make it harder for us to fall asleep at night, creating a vicious cycle. Try limiting caffeine intake to earlier in the day so it’s out of your system by bedtime.

Nap the right way.

Just 10 to 20 minutes of napping during the day can help us feel rested (and improve our creativity and memory, to boot!) . But try to avoid napping after 3:00 or 4:00pm, as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Get outside.

Increasing natural light exposure during the day promotes healthy melatonin balance, which can help us get to sleep later in the day.

Eat for sleep.

Eat dairy, foods high in magnesium, like halibut, almonds, cashews, and spinach, and foods high in vitamin B complex, like leafy green vegetables, nuts, and legumes. 

Dim the lights two hours before bed.

According to one study, exposure to electrical lights between dusk and bedtime might negatively affect our chances at quality sleep. Assuming you don’t want to sit in the dark for hours, find the happy medium by dimming the lights as bedtime draws near

Turn off the screens.

The artificial (or “blue”) light emitted by screens can disrupt our bodies’ preparations for sleep by stimulating daytime hormones. Reduce exposure by turning off TVs, phones, and computers at least one hour before bedtime. 

Don’t use your brain before bed.

Don’t work, watch stimulating TV shows, read complex material, or think too hard—about anything—before bedtime; working out the brain keeps the body awake.

Keep it (dark and) cool.

A dark, cool bedroom environment helps promote restful sleep. Program the thermostat so the bedroom’s temperature is between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius (experiment to find what works best for you), and use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block lights. Also be sure to charge phones and laptops outside the bedroom—even this tiny bit of light can disrupt sleep. 

Consider natural supplements.

Valerian and melatonin are two of the most highly recommended supplements (though their efficacy is still under review). Some other sleep aids can be effective, too.

Minimize disturbing noises.

If external noises are beyond your control (a busy street outside the window, a neighbor’s barking dog), cover them up with the sound of a bedside fan, a white noise machine, or other sounds that help us sleep.

Vent stress.

Spend some time writing down anxieties. Loose-leaf paper works, but if you scrawl your sorrows in a journal or notebook, you can literally close the book on your worries (at least until the morning).

Try a hot bath or shower.

  Stepping from warm water into a pre-cooled bedroom will cause body temperatures to drop slightly, which can trigger sleepy feelings by slowing down metabolic activity.

Do some leg exercises.

  Easy leg lifts, squats, or other leg exercises can help divert blood flow to the legs and away from the brain. This can help quiet the mind, making it easier to slip into dreamland.

Visualize yourself asleep.

Imagine yourself drifting in a blissful slumber while practicing deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Starting at one end of the body and working up or down, clench and then release each section of muscles for instant all-over relaxation.

See a doctor.

  If you’ve tried everything and nothing’s worked, it might be time to consult a professional. A doctor can help rule out any sleep disorders and identify lifestyle factors or medications that might be getting in the way of a good night’s rest.

» Categories: Sleep
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