If you’ve struggled with falling asleep at night, don’t give up hope! Changing up your routine in the evenings can lead to easier, sounder sleep. If you’re having trouble drifting into dreamland, these tips may help.
To sail smoothly into the land of Nod, Katherine Albert M.D., Ph.D., author of Get a Good Night’s Sleep, suggests trying one—or all—of the following:
1. Sleep in a comfortable bed.
A firm mattress and pillow are generally considered the best for a good night’s sleep, but experiment until you find a combination that works for you.
2. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
Most people sleep best in a room that’s a bit cooler than normally desired when awake. Draw the curtains and try to eliminate any distracting lights or noises by closing doors or windows.
3. Take a bath.
The warm water can help soothe you and get you ready for bed.
4. Drink a glass of warm milk or a cup of herb tea.
Milk is rich in calcium and l-tryptophan, which help your body prepare for sleep. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages such as black tea, hot chocolate and coffee at midday to allow the caffeine to leave your system long before bed.
5. Do a relaxation exercise.
Breathe deeply, listen to soothing music or let your mind wander—anything it takes to help you unplug and relax.
6. Do some light reading.
Choose a book you can easily pick up and put down. Save page-turners or thrillers for morning reading. Collections of short stories can also provide easy stopping places that can help you close the book and turn out the light at a reasonable hour.
7. Say good-night to your worries.
Shut the bedroom door on them—literally. Or write them down and close the book on them; whatever it takes to put your concerns to rest until morning.
8. Wind down before bedtime.
Make sure your last hour before bed is as peaceful as possible. Skip scary movies and save intense conversations for earlier in the day. Power down phones, laptops and the television a few hours before bed, as research suggests the blue light associated with digital devices disrupts your body’s production of melatonin.
9. Go with it.
Allow yourself to sleep—or stay awake, if your body so chooses. In other words, don’t try to force or control anything. You can’t force sleep, so if it’s not coming to you, try picking up a book or plugging into an audio book. Stressing out about not sleeping just makes it harder to drift off.
10. Give up for now.
Several chapters in and still awake? If it’s been 30 minutes and you’re still struggling to sleep, go ahead and get up to do something you like or need to do. If you can’t sleep, you may as well be productive—and checking something off your to-do list may be just what you needed to feel at ease and fall asleep.