Sleep is a necessity…but it doesn’t necessarily come easily. People all over the world struggle with a variety of sleep related issues. Some examples? Insomnia, sleep apnea, and difficulty sleeping through the night. The reality is that sleep disorders can affect your overall health and well-being. Do you have trouble sleeping? Maybe you grind your teeth at night or have restless leg syndrome. Or perhaps you find it difficult to calm down and relax once the lights turn out. There are many sleep-boosting strategies to test and try. Are you ready to say so long to the endless tossing and turning once and for all? It is time to get a better night of rest.
One in Three Adults Have Trouble Sleeping
There have been numerous studies on sleep and sleep disorders. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. One in three! That statistic may have to do with the fact that schedules are busier than ever and stress levels continue to increase. These days, the average person juggles many different responsibilities and expectations. Emails are always demanding attention and text messages constantly pour in from employers, colleagues, family members, and friends. All of those little stresses and strains can impact your ability to sleep well.
Something to keep in mind? More serious sleep issues may require the assistance of a medical professional. For instance, if your insomnia lasts for more than four weeks. Or if continued lack of sleep makes it difficult for you to perform everyday tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! Those dealing with frustrating (but not life-altering) sleep issues can incorporate several different strategies into their evening routine for a rejuvenating night of rest.
Strategy #1: Relax and Distract
Do you have trouble sleeping because your mind runs a mile a minute? Maybe you are totally Zen… but your head hits the pillow and you suddenly start thinking about everything you need to do tomorrow or that embarrassing thing you said at work. Anxiety and sleep do not mix. Thankfully, there are many different ways to relax and distract. It might take a bit of trial and error to find out what works for you. Don’t lose hope. Keep trying until you find a way to slow down those racing thoughts. A few suggestions include:
- Turn on your favourite sitcom (one you have watched many times before). Keep the volume low and turn off the screen so you can only hear the audio. Since you have watched all of the episodes several times already…you are familiar with them. They will be comforting and will give you something to focus on other than your anxious thoughts.
- Listen to relaxing music or nature sounds. Stream something, put on a YouTube video, or listen to a CD as you drift off. The sound of rain falling, ocean waves, birds chirping, or easy-going spa music will allow you to focus your mind on something that is soothing.
- Use ASMR videos or guided meditations for relaxation. Sometimes, it is hard to fall asleep when you feel alone or overwhelmed. That is where ASMR and guided meditation can be especially useful. There is someone speaking slowly and softly. Someone calm and serene. Someone nurturing and patient. Create a playlist with your favourite videos and turn the brightness on your phone or tablet all the way down while you watch.
Strategy #2: Establish a Healthy Nighttime Routine
The little things add up….and they can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Scrolling through social media before bed, sleeping in a warm room, or trying to go to bed earlier than usual can actually lead to trouble sleeping. It is important to establish a healthy nighttime routine. This can eliminate the stress and worry that comes with hitting the hay. What should be included in this routine? Consider the following:
- Lower the temperature in your room before bed. It can be difficult to fall asleep in a room that is too warm. So, make sure the temperature is a little cooler at night or use a fan for more circulation. Another option is to have a five-minute shower approximately one hour before you plan to turn out the lights. Some studies have found that a warm shower before bed can aid in relaxation and make it easier to drift off.
- Set (and follow) a sleep schedule. Some days, following a sleep schedule won’t be possible…but most of the time it will be. Decide what time you will wake up and what time you will go to sleep each night. Aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep. Your body will slowly start to adjust to this schedule and over time, it will become easier to fall asleep at night.
- Make sure your sleeping area is comfortable and give thought to the type of bedding you choose. For example, a weighted blanket can reduce stress and eliminate tossing and turning. Another option is to change your sheets regularly. Many people sleep better when the bedding is fresh and clean.
Strategy #3: Focus on Self Care
Never underestimate the importance of self care. Not only can this practice make you feel better about yourself (not to mention more balanced and grounded) but it can also improve your ability to sleep. It is an absolute must! Remember that prioritizing your needs is not selfish. You deserve time to unwind, release stress, and shower yourself with some much-needed TLC. Here are some different ways to focus on self care from now on:
- Journal or read before bed. This is a wonderful option, especially if you have had some trouble sleeping in the past. Try writing out anything you are worried about or your plans for tomorrow (so you won’t dwell on them when you try to sleep). You could also write out things you are grateful for or even some positive affirmations. Another idea is to do some reading as a way to end your day. One or two chapters before bed can be a fantastic way to destress.
- Pamper yourself with essential oils. One surefire way to catch some shuteye is to make use of calming essential oils. Add a few drops to a diffuser, dilute some with a carrier oil and apply to your temples and wrists, or use a pillow spray for a relaxing scent that lasts all night long. The best essential oils for sleep are lavender and chamomile.
- There are many different stretches that ease tension and make it easier to fall asleep. Simple stretches to try include: rolling your neck gently back and forth and shoulder rolls in both directions. Alternatively, there are some yoga stretches that can also be beneficial. Try legs-up-the-wall position (lie on your back and rest your legs and feet on the wall) or child’s pose (kneel on the floor and stretch your arms out in front).
Even More Ways to Get a Better Night of Rest
Still struggling to sleep? Not to worry. There are so many options! It all comes down to what works for you. Some people with sleep issues have found that melatonin works well and others have found that cutting out caffeine by mid-afternoon makes it easier to fall asleep at night. You could also try reciting a mantra as you drift off or visualize positive images. Other options include: eliminating naps during the day (which can alter your sleep schedule), cutting out alcohol, avoiding late-night snacks, and working out during the day.
It may not always be easy to fall asleep but with these sleep-boosting strategies, it is always possible. Trouble sleeping? Not anymore.