It’s 2 a.m. and you’ve never been more awake. You check the clock every five minutes, counting down the hours you have left until you need to get out of bed and tackle your day. Seven hours quickly become five, then four, then three, and you still haven’t been to sleep.
The scenario is familiar to those who have trouble sleeping at night. The reality is that not many people fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. In fact, the average person takes around 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, and a lot of factors might be to blame.
Are you stressed about a presentation at work? Do you have the best mattress or is it difficult to get comfortable? How much coffee did you consume during the day?
Whatever the case, sleepless nights can be disconcerting and downright frustrating, especially when you know the consequences will hit you hard. Cue the incessant yawning and walking around in a zombie-like trance.
But the good news is that you don’t have to suffer through it alone. Here’s a list of some tricks you can try when you have trouble sleeping.
1. It’s All in the Feet
If you have trouble sleeping, find your coziest pair of socks and put them on. Believe it or not, when your feet are cold, it’s harder to fall asleep. Warming your feet before bed can improve blood circulation and give your brain the signal that it’s time to sleep.
But the opposite can also be true. In case you tend to overheat during the night, pop your feet out of the blanket.
The key to falling and staying asleep is just temperature regulation. Take time to understand your body’s propensity toward temperature to determine whether the best mode of action is wearing socks or leaving your feet uncovered at night.
2. Don’t Stay in Bed
Not being able to fall asleep when you know you need to can be a uniquely stressful situation. It’s what prompts you to check the time every few minutes, and it’s the reason why you turn to Google for solutions on what to do when you can’t sleep.
The thing that amplifies your anxieties? Forcing yourself to stay in bed in the hopes that sleep will come in the next 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Next time you have trouble sleeping, just get out of bed instead.
Take a short walk around your house. Sit on the couch and crack open a book. Listen to some soothing sleep music. Download a guided sleep meditation app.
As soon as you get out of bed and commit to another task, you’ll notice your eyelids start to get heavier, and you struggle to stay awake.
3. Get Cozy
You’re bound to have trouble sleeping if your bed isn’t optimized for comfort, so load it up with plush pillows and soft throw blankets.
If you tend to run cold during the night, opt for a faux fur blanket to keep you warm, and if it’s the opposite, a cooling blanket can keep you snug and cozy without causing you to overheat. The key is just to ensure your bed is as cozy as it can be so you can fall asleep fast.
4. Have a Healthy Late-Night Snack
Inability to sleep leads to boredom. Boredom turns to hunger. Hunger results in a sleepless night that’s mostly consumed by food cravings.
Instead of braving your rumbling stomach until breakfast time, head to the kitchen, but be mindful of what you choose to eat.
While there are some foods that help you sleep, others may just keep you up even longer. Whenever you feel like having a midnight treat, steer clear of junk food or anything with a lot of additives. Instead, opt for something nutritious and light. Here are some healthy late-night snacks you can indulge in:
- Banana with nut butter
- Yogurt with granola and fruit
- Cheese and fruit
- A hardboiled egg
- Bagel with smoked salmon
5. Relax Your Muscles
Progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method to try if you have trouble sleeping. In this relaxation exercise, you first tense all your muscles and then relax them, repeating the process until you feel completely calm.
For best results, practice progressive muscle relaxation for at least 15 minutes, either before you go to bed or while you’re lying down. Tense and relax your muscles in 10-second intervals and be sure to breathe deeply as you go along. Work your way up, starting with your face, and make your way down each muscle group, ending at the toes.
The progressive relaxation technique might take some time to work, but after a few weeks of consistent practice, you may notice that you no longer have trouble sleeping.
The Bottom Line
While following these tips can help you fall asleep eventually, it’s also important to establish a consistent bedtime routine, limit caffeine intake during the day, and invest in a top-rated foam mattress to ensure you’re not waking up with aches and pains.
Many people have trouble sleeping from time to time, so don’t fret if you find yourself tossing and turning one night. Instead, experiment with different tricks to fall asleep, and if the problem persists, consider consulting a sleep specialistic.