Each and every night, thousands of people find themselves tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. Others try taking all sorts of different over the counter medications. Either way, both of these groups of people will usually wake up feeling tired and groggy each morning. They're tired, have to consume large amounts of caffeine, and dread the continuing cycle.
While I have nothing against modern medicine and listening to the advice of doctors, I believe that modern society has too much reliance on "fix me" pills, when in reality most health problems can be solved by making lifestyle changes on your own. These are a few tips if you want to figure out a natural way to make you feel more refreshed and alert each morning.
This is a big one. Exercise has, time and time again, been proven to help you fall asleep easier, as well as easier reach that desirable REM sleep (which is what really helps your body and mind recover.) And of course, you get all of the other benefits that go along with regularly exercising, like a healthy heart and respiratory system, and a body that makes you smile in the mirror each morning.
Lots of people spend all day working on the computer, driving in their car, and then coming home and sitting on the couch. Human bodies are not meant to do this! It's only natural that you might struggle to fall asleep, your body doesn't feel its earned rest. The absolute first thing that you should try doing is exercising. Any time that you can fit it into your schedule is good, however, the afternoon and early evening have been linked to the best times for those who struggle to get quality rest.
Have a Snack
There have been dozens of different studies that suggest all kinds of different foods which help aid in sleep. Some you may have heard of include: milk, turkey, cheese and crackers, eggs, walnuts, various teas, almonds, and a whole lot more. A quick Google search for "foods that help you fall asleep" will yield thousands of results.
It's impossible to say which of these foods are actually effective. I'm not a nutritionist, and besides, everyone's bodies and tastes are going to be different. However, you can always try each one of these foods individually on different nights, and just see which ones are effective for you. Remember, you don't want to overload and stuff your body up with any of these foods, but also eat an amount worthy of making an impact. Be sensible: eating two walnuts probably won't make your body feel a thing, but there's also no reason to eat an entire bag of them. Besides, you want to ruin the work you did exercising earlier!
Many people have found that they sleep much better when there are no lights. This means ZERO light whatsoever, not just turning off the lights in your room and hallway.
Get a set of black out curtains (they cost less than $40 at most stores or online), and cover up tiny lights emitted by things like cell phones, chargers, or that power button on your TV. Of course, you can also get a sleep mask, but many find these uncomfortable to sleep with. Still, it remains an option for those who do not mind wearing them.
This goes hand in hand with the "no lights". The only thing you should be doing in your bed is sleeping. If you are doing other things in bed, you are dissociating "sleep" from "bed" in your mind.
Watch TV in the living room. Charge your cell phone in another room, or at the very least, across the room from your bed. No bringing the iPads or laptops or other devices into bed to watch Netflix. Do it somewhere else, from now on, your bed should be 100% for sleeping. If you absolutely have to do something, then read a book. And by that we are talking about a real book. Avoid anything with a backlight. If your Nook or Kindle has one, turn it off. Backlights have been shown to make your eyes more alert and wake you up. That's all well and good when it's your computer monitor at the office, but not when you want to fall asleep.
You need to have a somewhat regular sleep schedule. If you are going to sleep at midnight on Monday and 3 AM on Tuesday and 9 PM on Wednesday, you are constantly messing up your body's internal clock. This is like having self-inflicted jet lag!
Decide on a certain time which gives you an appropriate amount of sleep, and then stick to that time. Even if you have to go in bed and lie there for an hour on some nights in the beginning, stick with it. If you can, keep this consistent on weekends as well.
Avoid Waking During REM Sleep
Sometimes, the reason you feel groggy in the morning despite getting plenty of sleep is that you are waking up during REM sleep. Your body hates being pulled out of REM, so you want to avoid this as best you can. Personally, I recommend using Sleepytime.
The way this works is actually pretty simple. You plug in when you want to wake up, and it gives you different times you should go to sleep. It does this by calculating the average time it takes most people to enter and complete REM cycles. They also have a mobile application for Google Play (Android) and Apple iPhones, and can be used for alarm clocks.
Chances are, if you have been having issues with sleep for a while, none of these things are going to instantly fix your problem overnight. Your body needs to be trained like everything else. However, if you find that some of these methods are working for you, definitely keep at it. It may take weeks, and in some cases months, until you really have your sleeping back on track, but it is well worth it. There are so many people who have accepted a fate of always waking up tired. Don't become one of those people.