It's not just you. Studies show that over a third of Americans have trouble sleeping. But why?
There are too many reasons to count. Perhaps you're anxious about a big test the next day. You could have stayed up binge-watching Netflix for too long. For some, however, there seems to be no logical reason why sleep evades them.
Whatever your reason for being awake, you've come to the right place. These are ten of the best ways to help you sleep like a baby.
1. Get up and do something else.
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you're not asleep after trying for about 20 minutes, you're not doing yourself any favors by hanging out in bed. Get up and walk around. Read a little. Do something to take your mind off the fact that you can't sleep...and then try to sleep again. This is a good way to work off any lingering stress that might be keeping you up.
2. Stay away from screens before bed.
This goes for TVs, smartphones, tablets, and everything else with a glowing screen. Even Kindles are bad for you. Why? The light emitted from these screens can actually decrease melatonin production, which is what your brain produces to help you sleep. Researchers also suggest that this light interferes with circadian rhythms in your brain. You may be tricking yourself into thinking it's daytime!
3. Go to bed at the same time every night.
We all like to stay up a little later on the weekends, but it does us more harm than good. A consistent bedtime keeps your internal clock in check. It might sound like a strict routine, but it can drastically improve your sleeping experience.
4. Change up your sleeping situation.
Are your linens uncomfortable? Is your mattress awful? No wonder you're not falling asleep! After all, how are you going to fall asleep when the thing you're sleeping on is causing you discomfort? Assess your bedding and make a change if necessary. (This will also give you an excuse to splurge on some Egyptian cotton sheets. Just saying.)
5. Only use your bed for its intended purposes.
Sure, breakfast in bed is nice, and reading on your pillow seems like fun, but these activities might be getting between you and a good night's sleep. The more you do in your bed that's not related to sleep, the harder it'll be for you to transition into sleep. Only use your bed for sleeping and sex.
6. Try taking a melatonin supplement.
We've all been there. You start a Netflix binge, and before you know it, it's 4 a.m. and you need to be in the office in five hours. Because your internal clock is off, melatonin production in your brain is delayed, thus hindering your ability to sleep. Fortunately, you can purchase a natural melatonin supplement to try and reset that clock. Before you do, it's best to talk to your doctor.
7. Kick stress to the curb.
This might be easier said than done, but try to resolve any existing conflicts, internal or otherwise, before heading to bed. If you're stressed or mad about something, consider playing devil's advocate with yourself to calm your nerves. If you and your significant other are in the midst of an argument, attempt to rationally resolve your conflict before you hit the hay. Many have found that writing about their worries in a journal before trying to sleep is a helpful practice. Stress is pretty much guaranteed to keep you up at night, so do yourself a favor and attempt to remove any stressful roadblocks before you go to bed.
8. Take deep breaths.
Slow, deep breaths might sound like they belong at the doctor's office, but they can actually help you relax. Breathing techniques usually work pretty well in the sleep department.
9. Wiggle your big toes and count backwards from 1000.
This is by far the goofiest thing you'll ever hear, but it works. I had crippling insomnia issues for years, and finally learned this trick from a friend of mine. Get into bed, close the blinds, turn off the lights, and slowly wiggle your big toes while counting backwards from 1000 in your head. This technique can help you get into a meditative mindset.
10. Take part in a sleep study.
Talk to your physician about a sleep study. There's likely a medical center near you that will help you find out exactly why you're not sleeping. All you need to do is spend a night or two in their comfortable facilities hooked up to a series of machines. Doctors monitor your progress from another room. Before you commit to a given sleep center, be sure that their physicians have practices in place for evaluating insomnia. Some sleep centers focus on issues like sleep apnea and treat insomnia as an afterthought, which won't help you.
If you're still having persistent problems with sleep, it is best to consult a doctor before you introduce any new methods to your sleep routine. If you have an excess amount of stress keeping you awake, consider speaking to a mental health professional to learn more about living a stress-free and restful life. In the end, any positive measures you take will only help you reach your goal of a good night's sleep.