Think about how long it took you to fall asleep last night; if it felt like it took forever to drift off, it’s definitely time to consider these tips for falling asleep – lack of sleep can make even the friendliest person grouchy, and it won’t do anything for your stress levels, either! Here are my top tips for falling asleep quickly, without using medications.
1. Avoid Exercise
Have you started doing push-ups or jumping jacks before bed? It might not be as good an idea as you thought – not only are you at your most tired just before getting into bed, which decreases effectiveness and makes you more likely to injure yourself, but you are increasing blood flow around the body too, which will wake you up. One of the best tips for falling asleep quickly is to avoid exercise within three hours of your bedtime, to let your heart settle into a calm state and make drifting off easy.
2. Turn the TV off
Most people these days have learnt to sleep with a certain amount of light, but if you are struggling to drift off, try turning off your TV and computer an hour before bed. Backlit screens trick your brain into thinking its daytime, and can really prolong the falling asleep process. Try listening to calm music, writing or reading instead, as these will let your body relax without the false signals.
3. Start a Routine
It sucks, but it’s true – your body will adapt to a sleep routine, and you’ll find it much easier if you stick to the same sleep/wake cycle. Pick a realistic time, such as 11pm, and you’ll find you adapt to naturally be ready to sleep at that time. The good side? Getting up at 7am will be much easier, as your body will expect it.
4. Use Physical Stimulus
It’s not just your brain that can be conditioned. Try setting a physical stimulus to show your body it’s time to sleep. A sleep clinic I went too recommends stroking the bridge of your nose with your thumb for a few minutes at the same time every night, just before going to bed. After two or three weeks, your body will acknowledge this clue as the beginning of the sleep cycle, and it’ll magically help you drift off.
5. Tell Yourself a Story
This isn’t as nutty as it sounds – it really works! Invent a calm, cheerful story to tell yourself. This will block out your thoughts, and stop you reflecting on the day, which can keep you awake. Tell your story to yourself (in your head, to avoid looking like a loon) and focus on nothing else. You’ll be asleep before you know it.
6. Improve Your Bedroom
Still can’t sleep? Blame your bedroom. Make your room calm, quiet, dark and relaxing. Clean sheets, a soft duvet, good pillows, and drapes to block out light; even a new mattress if yours isn’t too comfortable anymore. Some people find earplugs help them create that optimum sleep atmosphere, too.
I’ve always been a bit skeptical of hypnosis, but a friend has recently invested in a great sleep hypnosis CD that has her falling asleep much happier every night. The difference in her is amazing, and she puts it all down to the relaxation methods the CD taught her – so if you can’t sleep, try borrowing or buying a relaxing sleep hypnosis CD, and give it a lesson.
8. Avoid Heat!
Many people turn the heating up if they are struggling to sleep, trying to recreate that warm, lazy, sleepy feeling you get on hot summer afternoons. It’s actually cooling the room that is likely to help, though – the body’s systems slow at lower temperatures, and you are 50% more likely to get to sleep. Take your socks off, turn off the heating or use air conditioning or a fan to cool yourself down.
If you still can’t get to sleep, arrange an appointment with your doctor. Some medical conditions can cause difficulty sleeping, and if nothing is wrong, your doctor will be able to recommend a variety of tools such as relaxation classes, sleeping tablets and sleep clinics to help you get back on track. Have you got a foolproof way to fall asleep? I’d love to hear it!