If you've been having trouble falling asleep at night, you know how frustrating trying to get a good night's rest becomes. To perform our best throughout the day - both physically and mentally - our minds and bodies require sleep. Not only does it recharge us from the rigors of the previous day, but it also primes us for tomorrow.
The following tips should help most people doze off rather quickly once they hit the mattress. You might find that some work better than others (as no two people are the same), and in many cases it might be worth combining these strategies until you find the best sleep solution for you.
Tips For Falling Asleep Faster At Night
Wake Up At The Same Time Every Day. Believe it or not, our bodies like routine. And when we don't give it some hard parameters, it doesn't know what to do. Many of us wake up at the same time on weekdays for jobs or school, but then sleep in on the weekends. While catching a few extra winks on Saturday and Sunday mornings seems like a great idea in theory, in actuality it puts our bodies into a tailspin; ultimately it could think that you're "shifting" your sleep time to later hours, and might respond by not getting sleepy until much later. The fix is easy, just get up at the same time every morning.
Go To Bed At The Same Time Every Night. Much like the above point, crawling into bed at irregular times can cause many people to have trouble falling asleep. If you set a regular bed time and stick to it as closely as possible, you'll probably find yourself settling into a great sleep routine within a few short weeks.
Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bedtime. It may seem counter intuitive, considering a big, heavy meal usually makes us feel really sleepy, put gobbling down a big dinner within a few hours of going to bed could actually cause sleep problems throughout the night, including trying to fall asleep from the start. If you like a big late night meal, try eating earlier in the evening so your body has plenty of time to digest it before you crawl between the sheets. Or, if that's not practical with your schedule, consider eating a heavier lunch and then a smaller dinner (effectively swapping the big meal for an earlier time).
Avoid Sugar And Caffeine Near Bedtime. With so many beverages and foods laden with sugar and caffeine these days, it's often hard to know what doesn't have them in it. Check the label carefully, and avoid anything with sugars (sucrose, fructose and high fructose corn syrup) or caffeine. Some people are naturally more sensitive to these, so it might be worth your effort to stop drinking or eating these types of substances earlier in the day. I actually know people who won't drink coffee past Noon because drinking caffeine, even just a little bit, later than that gives them trouble falling asleep later that night.
Cut The Lights. Our brains are wired to consider light "awake time," and back in the old pre-electricity days, this was no problem. But thanks to street lamps, night lights, traffic lights and just about anything else, it's hard to keep light out of your sleeping area. For starters, make sure your room is dark when you cut out the lights (remove any night lights and even consider an alarm clock that doesn't illuminate the time). Heavy curtains are great for cutting out any outside light. If these aren't enough or aren't practical, try a sleeping mask. It should keep the light away from your eyes and help you fall asleep at night.
Keep Things Quiet. Noise makes it almost impossible to fall asleep, no matter what other steps you've taken to make your bedroom a perfect sleeping area. Take every step necessary to cut out unnecessary noise in your home at night (don't sleep with the radio or TV on, like many people do). Wind up alarm clocks are notorious for keeping people awake, too. Of course outside noises are harder to control - so is a snoring spouse - so for those situations you might try ear plugs, just make sure that you don't sleep through the alarm tomorrow morning!
Make Sure Your Bed Is Comfortable. If your mattress or bedding is uncomfortable, it won't matter how many of these tips you try, you'll probably always have trouble falling asleep and even when you do get your eyes closed, you won't sleep all that well. Your mattress should be firm and cozy, and your sheets should be inviting. Take every effort to make your bed an incubator for late night shut eye. Talk with a professional about the kind of mattress or pillow that's right for your body if necessary.
Keep Your Bedroom Cool. Several studies have shown that most people fall asleep faster and sleep better when their bedroom is on the cooler side. Try turning down the thermostat a few degrees at night and see if that helps. Don't worry, you dont' have to stay cold, instead throw an extra blanket on your bed. For some crazy scientific reason, we are wired to sleep better in cooler air and under warm blankets.
Consider Stress. Often times, the reason people have trouble falling asleep isn't because of any of the issues I've mentioned, but is instead because of emotional and mental stress. You can do everything right and still have troubles falling asleep at night if you're under stress. I'm not an expert in stress reduction, but several authorities recommend things like meditation, yoga and simply time to "wind down." Try listening to some relaxing music (nature sounds are popular), lighting some candles and even taking a bubble bath.
Still Having Trouble Falling Asleep?
While the tips I've laid out are great, they won't work for everybody. And depending on what's keeping you up at night, they may or may not work. If you've tried them all and are still having trouble falling asleep, I'd highly recommend that you speak with a doctor who specializes in sleep, they have the equipment, experience and solutions for just about any problem they may find.