Do you lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wishing you could be asleep, struggling to sleep before dawn? If so, then maybe you need to add a few new Sleep Techniques to your night-time repertoire. I can help! As someone who's struggled with insomnia off and on for years, I can tell you a few sleep techniques that will help. Here are 8 effective sleep techniques to help you fall asleep, and stay asleep, faster.
1. Set a Routine
Setting a night-time routine is one of the best sleep techniques you can use if you want to fall asleep, and stay asleep, each night. Going through the same motions at the same time each night is not only soothing, but it also signals your body that it's time to sleep, and that cue can sometimes mean the difference between dozing off peacefully, or struggling to get yourself ready for sleep.
2. Exercise Regularly, but Not after Dinner
Studies have shown that people who exercise strenuously, regularly, sleep better than those who don't. But before you hit the gym on the way home from work, or go for a run after dinner, remember that other studies have shown exercise too late in the day is just as insomnia-inducing as caffeine (see item 4), so avoid it after 5 or 6 p.m., and exercise in the morning or mid-day instead.
3. Avoid Eating Too Late
It's early impossible to fall asleep if you're feeling weighed down with a heavy meal, so try to avoid eating too late in the evening, and drinking after 7 p.m.
4. Avoid Caffeine after Dinner
I know I’ve just said to avoid drinking after 7 p.m., but there's a small caveat to that: don't drink anything with caffeine in it after dinner, or, if you're sensitive to it, after 4 p.m. As a tea hound, this is one sleep technique I find hard to stick to, but it's worth it. Try switching to decaf coffee or herbal tea if you still need to feel like you're getting your fix.
5. Make the Bedroom the S-zone ONLY
Eating, fighting, watching TV, surfing the net, texting: all of these should be banned from the bedroom if you want a good night's sleep. What's allowed in the S-zone, then? Two things: sleeping and sex. Simple.
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher showed all of us a relaxation technique that translates nicely into a sleep technique: meditation. We would close our eyes, then relax slowly as the teacher (or the voices in our heads) described each body part sinking into the ground (or bed). Start at your toes, work your way up... magic!
7. Invest in Bed and Bedding
This may seem like a small, shallow thing, but believe me when I say that investing in a good bed and bedding can make all the difference. First, start with your mattress itself, making sure you're using a firmness that suits you. Next, find a pillow that's just right. Then buy good bedding, with a higher thread count, something luxurious. Last, make sure the temperature of your room suits you! Now you're set to sleep.
8. Adjust Your Clock
If you find yourself on the night-owl schedule, here's a sleep technique that may help, though for a few hours, it'll seem like torture: re-set your circadian rhythm. Fall asleep at your normal 3 a.m., but then force yourself to wake up at 8 a.m., and stay awake until 10 or 11 p.m. Believe me, resetting your internal clock isn't the easiest thing to do (you'll crave a nap for sure), but it's well worth it.
Try adding a few (or better yet, all) of these sleep techniques to your routine, and you'll be asleep in no time, you'll be out like a light, all night! Trust me, they all help, one at a time, or all at once... and they're all important to help you sleep. Which of these sleep techniques do you think you'll add first? Do tell!
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