It has been a proven fact that everyone loves sleeping, whether after a long day or not. On the flip side, quite a number of people find it difficult to fall asleep and spend hours tossing and turning in bed. In America alone, people in excess of 40 million1 suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders with an additional 20 million occasionally facing these problems. The tips below will help you relax your body, fall asleep and have a good night sleep.
The 14 things to help you sleep
- Avoid all forms of anxiety
When in bed, people have a tendency of thinking about things that did not go well during the day to an extent of getting their mind all worked up. Some will even go on and think about their worst nightmares, unpaid bills and the like. All this will increase your brain activity and instead of preparing your body to go to sleep, it gets it hyperactive and thus preventing you from falling asleep.
- Have a trusted bedtime ritual that you practice every night
People that are in need of a restful night and a fresh, reinvigorated morning can make use of a simple night-time routine that their bodies can be trained to get used to before going to sleep. A human body is capable of adjusting to certain environments and activities. Activities such as breathing and relaxation exercises will help to condition your body that this is now time to go to sleep. Another example of a night-time ritual is reading a book in bed as opposed to reading it on your study table.
- You can try to stick to a single sleep schedule
Growing up, we were taught that if you want to wake up at 7 am, in the following morning, then you had to go to bed at 11 pm. This became a belief and until now, I still practice it. Having a clear sleep schedule will condition your body into wanting to go to sleep once the clock gets to that time. Having said this, it is important to also note the fact that going to sleep before you are ready to could result in you tossing and turning in bed for hours or until the early hours of the next day. A person should be able to fall asleep between 20 and 30 minutes after getting into bed, when that does not happen, it helps to get out of bed and practice one of your night-time rituals, then go back into bed and try to sleep again.
- Avoid taking power naps during the day
A power nap is that short sleep that one takes during the day for different reasons. Some take power naps to rejuvenate their minds during working hours and some just take them because they feel like their eyes are getting heavy. However, taking these kinds of naps during the day could steal away all your night’s sleep which in turn has negative impacts to your health, causing problems such as insomnia and sleepless nights induced anxiety. Power naps are strongly discouraged to people who naturally struggle with sleeping during the night.
- Take a warm beverage before going to sleep
One of the conditions that help your body to go to sleep is the maintenance of certain temperature levels in your body. Taking warm beverages, for example tea and warm milk, will help take your body to these temperatures, recommended to be between 60 and 67 degrees F. However, when taking a warm beverage, avoid taking any products that contain caffeine as this will prevent you from falling asleep. Caffeine should be taken at least 8 hours before the time you go to bed.
- Be creative with your food, eat these foods to fall asleep easily
It has been proven that milk contains tryptophan, a food element that makes you fall asleep. Therefore, taking warm milk just before you go to sleep will do the magic. However, the tryptophan should have something to take it to the brains, where it will work its magic from. In order for this to happen, you ought to take the warm milk with something that has carbohydrates in it, and cookies are the best choice. Just avoid taking cookies that contain a lot of sugar in them.
- Invest in a soothing sound machine
You would argue that listening to music is the best, but sometimes you also need the sound of the forest, the sound of the ocean waves in a quite environment just to make your body fall asleep. This method had long been synonymous with children but recently, it has been proven to be an effective adult sleep therapy. Placing this in your room and switching it on with your eyes closed will take you to dreamland in no time. Soothing sound machines can be purchased from a number of online stores if they are difficult to get hold of in your area.
- Force yourself to stay awake for a specific time
Well, this should not sound confusing as we are dealing with ways to make you fall asleep. But, this is more of showing off the power of reverse psychology. This was proven by a small study that was conducted at the University of Glasgow that found out that sleep deprived individuals who were instructed to lay in bed and try to stay awake actually fell asleep faster than their counterparts who were just put in bed and not instructed to do so. Therefore, according to this experiment, the harder you try to fall asleep, the lesser are your chances of getting to dreamland within the normal 20 to 30 minutes time frame.
- Drop your room temperature
According to the National Sleep Foundation of America, a bedroom temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees F is recommended before going to sleep. A human body’s temperatures drops slightly before going to sleep and this is widely believed to be one of many triggers that tells your body to fall asleep. Dropping the room temperature helps to expedite your dropping body temperatures.
- Take a warm shower
Taking a warm shower before going to sleep helps to keep your body warm and thus speeds up the sleeping process.
- Wear socks to bed
Well, this also sounds normal or unimportant, but do you know that when your hands and feet are cold you take longer to fall asleep? Taking socks into bed will keep your feet warm and thus help you fall asleep faster.
- Use the magic “4-7-8” breathing exercise
Here is one proven breathing technique, or exercise that helps to relax your body and get you to sleep in no time. You can practice this in your bed or outside your bed, depending on your choice.
Now, here is how you do it: Touch the tip of your tongue to the ridge of tissue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your top front teeth. Your tongue will remain here for the duration of the exercise. To a count of four, inhale through your nose.
To a count of seven, hold your inhale.
To a count of eight, exhale through your mouth.
Repeat steps 2 to 4 for three additional times, for a total of four rounds of inhale-hold-exhale. Remember to keep your tongue in contact with the roof of your mouth for all four rounds. This should relax your body and prepare you to have a great night sleep.
- Listen to music
I have heard several people asking me in the morning about the noise from a party next door and how that condemned them to a sleepless night. In most times, I would have no idea what they are talking about because I fall sleep with my headphones on my ears. Listening to your own music or playlist before falling asleep protects you from all the noise that happens around, for example barking dogs and loud music from next door. Without the noise, you easily fall asleep.
- Switch off electronic gadgets
Electronic gadgets with shiny screens are known to prevent the creation of melatonin hormones that help you into falling asleep. When human eyes detect light, they stop the creation of melatonin and when they detect darkness, they trigger the creation of melatonin which in turn helps you fall asleep.
Lack of sleep in humans has been identified as one of the problems that people face during the night. However, it can be prevented by using a number of ways. These ways are natural, like taking a warm bath, they are also scientific like dimming the lights or switching off electronic gadgets to trigger the creation of melatonin, and they can be biological through using different kinds of food combinations just to get the body to sleep. Lack of sleep results in the body getting up tired the next morning and therefore not ready for work, causing sleep induced anxiety problems and thus should be prevented. For further education, I have attached two video links that speak about solutions to the problem of lack of sleep at the end of this article.