You’ve heard it over and over again. Adults are recommended to sleep for 7-9 hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Arianna Huffington, a co-founder of the Huffington Post, says prioritizing sleep is the only way to be happy and succeed in life.
You keep thinking about it as you go to bed every night, but every night you end up tossing, turning and staying awake. What can you do?
Get out of bed
If you’re constantly tossing and turning, and you start worrying about how you’re hurting your body or how you’ll be exhausted at work tomorrow… you’re not helping yourself sleep. Try getting out of bed for a while, and practice some new sleep-inducing habits before giving it another shot.
Create sleep-inducing habits
If you’re like most modern people, you’re attached to your smart devices nonstop during the day. But when the night arrives, it’s time to make an effort and let go of the electronics that keep you engaged, conversational and awake.
Take a long bath or a warm shower, learn how to meditate, or go read a book on your most comfortable couch.
Drop the alcohol and coffee before bedtime, too. Drinking milk or herbal tea might sound ridiculous, but over time, they start impacting your body and signaling it to go to sleep.
Create an environment that supports sleep
If you bring your phone to bed, you know you’re going to answer that text or check the notifications that beep their way into your sleep attempts. Set yourself up for success by putting it away.
Do that especially if your phone is also your alarm clock. Having to get up and go to the other side of the room in the morning will make it easier not to go back to sleep, which might just make you tired enough to fall asleep faster the following night.
Make your bed your sleep sanctuary. Don’t bring your computer to it or sit down in bed to talk on the phone. You want to train your brain to connect your bed with sleep.
Similarly, ensure that your bedroom is as dark as it can be at night, and open the blinds in the morning, to teach your body that a dark environment equals feeling tired and getting some sleep.
If you’re cold, turn on the heat. If it’s hot, turn on the air conditioner. Get a comfortable mattress. Make sure that your body is comfortable, so it can start to relax.
Go to sleep and wake up every day at the same hour
In order to train your body to fall asleep, you need to give it an empowering sleep schedule. Write down when you start your sleep process every night (put the phone away, take a shower, drink herbal tea, read a book) and when you fall asleep.
You’ll learn how long it takes you, which will reduce frustration and anxiety when you get into bed and can’t sleep. If it usually takes you four hours to fall asleep, you’ll no longer expect yourself to fall asleep within 20 minutes just because tomorrow will be extra busy.
Once you know this, you’ll be able to schedule your process for every evening. You’ll know to close the day earlier. Make your sleep and wake-up schedule consistent, no matter how energized you feel in the evening or how tired you feel in the morning, and your body will adjust.
You’ll see that it takes you less and less time to fall asleep as you practice this.
Rule out illnesses
Sleep issues are very common, so it’s likely that staying consistent with a sleep schedule will help you overcome your insomnia.
But if you’re worried about a medical condition, like digestive illnesses or sleep apnea, getting in the way of better sleep, walk into an urgent care clinic or schedule an appointment with your primary doctor, so you can consult with a professional.
Once you’ve ruled out a medical condition at your primary or urgent care clinic, there’s no way around it. It’s time to make changes in how you handle your evenings and nights. It’s not going to be easy and it is going to take time, but that feeling you’ll have when you manage to have a good night’s sleep is absolutely worth it.
Start by changing 1-3 habits – like going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends – and gradually change more, until you find the sleep rhythm that’s best for you.