To help them get to sleep, Americans are doing everything they can from investing in high-quality mattresses to hiring a sleep coach. According to Natana Raj, an analyst with BBC Research, Americans spend approximately $41 billion a year on sleep aids and other treatments (1). That number is expected to increase to $52 billion by 2020 (1). Here are 50 tips for better sleep that you may not have tried yet.
One of the most effective sleep tips is to keep all electronics out of your bedroom at night. Electronics and anything that emits light will tell your brain not to produce melatonin, which is a hormone needed to make you sleepy. A good rule of thumb is to turn off all electronics two hours before you go to bed and keep them out of the bedroom, so you’re not tempted to use them. This includes televisions, video games, smartphones, and tablets.
Make a conscious effect not to use electronics after dinner. Instead, do something relaxing to get you ready for bed, such as take a hot bath, read a book, meditate, or take a stroll in nature. Keep your bedroom dark as light exposure decreases your melatonin levels and tells your brain it's time to wake up.
Follow up a dark night with a bright morning to regulate your melatonin levels and help establish your internal sleep cycle. Melatonin levels are suppressed when you’re exposed to light, so be sure to turn on all lights first thing in the morning when the alarm goes off to help wake up.
Opening the blinds to expose natural sunlight is another great way to get more light into your mornings. Spend a few minutes quietly sitting in the light or meditating to allow your melatonin levels to decrease so that you can wake up naturally. This will also help you regulate a sleep time when you go back to bed at night, which can help you sleep longer and more efficiently.
Many people do not sleep well at night because they haven’t established a nighttime routine. Your body runs on a variety of internal systems, and all of them prefer to be on a schedule. Your circadian cycle is what controls your sleep cycle and the production of melatonin. Developing a healthy bedtime routine is a great way to set your circadian cycle so you can sleep better at night.
Start by eating a light dinner that isn’t too heavy to digest. Put away all electronics two hours before you plan on going to bed to help you wind down. Instead of watching television, try something relaxing such as taking a hot bath or reading a book. Get in the habit of winding down before bed instead of being stressed until the time you lay down.
Caffeine and other stimulants are perfect for keeping you awake during the day, but they may also cut into your sleep time if taken too late at night. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to ten hours (28). Some people are especially sensitive to caffeine after a certain time of day. Aim for one cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning and then again after lunch. Drinking coffee after 3 pm may keep you awake at night.
In place of an after-dinner coffee, try herbal tea or warm water with lemon to aid in digestion and help you get ready for bed. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep hydrated, especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker. It’s also a good idea not to drink too many fluids close to bedtime. This will help keep you from being interrupted in the middle of the night by the urge to use the restroom.
While some people can sleep through a circus, others have a hard time falling asleep if it's too noisy. If you live in a shared environment, it can be hard to control the habits of those around you. A snoring partner may be the reason why you’re not sleeping. One of the most creative tips to sleep better is to invest in a good set of earplugs.
Look for a brand of earplugs that are designed specifically for sleep. The goal is to find one comfortable enough to wear all night long. Some sleep doctors warn against using drugstore foam and recommend using wax and silicone that will block out the noise to help you sleep without causing you to sleep through the sound of your alarm. Remember that you get what you pay for and investing in a good set is well worth the price.
Some television sets or computer modems may have flashing or blinking lights that keep you awake at night. If it’s not possible to remove them from your bedroom, cover any problematic or flashing lights with black electrical tape. When done properly, it shouldn’t harm the electronics and can help you get the shut eye that you need. The tape can be removed daily and reapplied at night as needed. In addition to covering them with tape, try turning any blinking or flashing lights away from you if you can so the light is not shining in your face.
One of the healthiest tips for sleep and in general is to exercise. Several studies have linked exercise to better sleep quality and increased length. According to a 2013 report from Psychology Today, regular exercise strengthens your circadian cycle and improves sleep apnea and insomnia (2). The report indicated that daytime exercise stimulates longer periods of the deepest and most restorative sleep known as slow-wave sleep.
Developing a regular exercise routine has also been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which are all linked to insomnia. For best results, try to exercise first thing in the morning or earlier in the day as strenuous physical activity late at night may disrupt your sleep cycle. Check with a doctor to determine what types of exercise is best for you. Start slow. An effective exercise program for both women and men should include cardio and resistance training.
Some people can only fall asleep if they have background noise going, such as a fan or soothing music. Your smartphone likely has a free app that you can download to play white noise, but make sure your phone doesn’t emit light while it plays as this may keep you awake. If you’re using your phone for white noise, make sure to keep the phone away from your bed, so you’re not tempted to scroll through it at night. It may also help to set a timer, so the white noise goes off after you’re asleep.
White noise players are also available for purchase and don’t require you to use a smartphone. Be sure you buy one without blinking links that may keep you awake. Using a fan can be just as helpful. Point the fan away from you, so it’s not blowing directly on you during cold winter months.
Contrary to popular belief, enjoying an alcoholic drink at night may keep you awake instead of helping you sleep. Research shows that alcohol creates a biphasic effect on the body. In other words, alcohol puts you through two phases. When it’s first consumed, alcohol acts as a stimulant. Later, it creates a sedative effect. But one study shows that the stimulating effects of alcohol can disrupt your natural sleep cycle (3).
Alcohol is a depressant, which may contribute to depression and anxiety that keeps you awake at night. It also spikes blood sugar levels, so you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night with abnormal glucose levels. Lastly, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases the urge to urinate more. Having a drink or two each night can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Research shows that obesity is linked to insomnia. A 2013 study found that insomnia may play a role in causing people to overeat, which leads to weight gain (4). Another study stated that elevated levels of cortisol in the body increases a person’s urge to eat foods that are high in fat and sugar. It also causes them to store fat in the abdominal area, which contributes to the expansion of your waist line (4).
Exercise is a good way to reduce abdominal fat and improve insomnia. One study showed that moderately intense cardio activity approximately three hours before bedtime reduced the time it took subjects to fall asleep. It also decreased their wake up time and the amount of anxiety they felt before going to bed. Total sleep time and quality were increased in those who had been diagnosed with insomnia (4).
Even if you’re not a big fan of meditation, you could still benefit from spending a few quiet moments to yourself before bed. The idea is to relax the mind and prepare for sleep. Meditation is a great tool to use anytime you feel stressed. It’s free and can be done anywhere, including at work, school, while sitting in traffic, or anytime stress hits.
To meditate, sit or lay down and close your eyes if you can. Don’t close your eyes if you’re operating a vehicle! Focus your attention on your breath. Take a few deep breaths and observe your body movements as you exhale. When your mind wanders, focus your attention back on your breath. Do this for two to three minutes a day and work your way up.
Sex has similar effects on the body as exercise. It reduces stress, relieves depression, and helps you fall asleep faster. Research suggests that a sex drought can affect your sleep quality.
After an orgasm, a hormone known as oxytocin is released in the brains of both men and women. Oxytocin is also referred to as the “love hormone.” It can be released during a snuggle session or foreplay with your partner, too. Oxytocin helps you feel deeply relaxed and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
Sex increases estrogen in women, which enhances the REM sleep cycle for deeper, more restorative sleep. For men, having an orgasm produces a hormone called prolactin, which has been shown to induce sleep. Having sex regularly also brings you closer to your partner, which may reduce general stress and anxiety.
Chamomile is an excellent herbal tea to sip after dinner in place of coffee or caffeinated tea. It has been shown to reduce stress and help you relax so you can drift off to sleep easier. Research shows that chamomile increases a chemical called glycine that acts as a mild sedative and relaxes muscles and nerves.
A 2011 study found that chamomile contains flavonoids called apigenin that bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain to calm the central nervous system (5). One study found that subjects who drank chamomile tea fell into a deep sleep for 90 minutes (5). The study stated that chamomile contains hypnotic activity that causes an anti-stress reaction in the brain. Enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea at dinner or add it to your nighttime routine to help you sleep better.
In some cases, an underlying medical condition may be preventing you from sleeping. Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems may cause a hormonal imbalance that disrupts your sleep cycle. Other medical conditions that may interrupt sleep include gastrointestinal problems, asthma, arthritis, neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s disease, and allergies.
Other conditions that may be keeping you awake include depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and chronic pain conditions. Check with your doctor if you feel like your insomnia may be due to an underlying condition, especially if the stress over wondering what could be wrong is keeping you awake at night. If insomnia persists despite several treatments, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Receiving a proper diagnosis is the first step to recovery and fixing your sleep problem.
The following medications may cause insomnia in some people:
If you’re on a medication that you think may be keeping you awake at night, talk to your doctor about switching your prescription or modifying the dose.
Research shows that the temperature of your sleeping area affects how long and how well you sleep. According to Doctor H. Craig, professor of biology at Stanford University, “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature, or the temperature your brain is trying to achieve, goes down. Think of it as your internal thermostat (6).” When it’s too hot or cold in your room, your body cannot achieve its set point.
Temperature also affects your REM sleep or the stage of sleep in which you dream. Everyone has a different comfort level, but the recommended sleep temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends thinking of your bedroom as a cave. It should be dark, cool and quiet.
When chronic stress keeps you awake at night, Ashwagandha can help you get to sleep. Ashwagandha does not have sedative properties, so you can take it at any time of the day to combat stress. Taking it at night before bed may be able to help you relax and forget about stress so you can get some sleep.
According to a 2012 study, Ashwagandha is a safe and efficient adaptogen that can be used to reduce cortisol levels significantly (7). Authors of the study concluded that “a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life (7).” They also determined Ashwagandha to be safe with no serious side effects.
Writing is a soothing activity you can do in place of watching television or scrolling through your phone at night. It’s also an excellent way to reduce stress and work out stressful feelings. Consider keeping a journal and write in it every night after dinner. Discuss your day and what factors caused you stress or made you feel a certain way. Talking to a loved one about your feelings may also help.
Setting aside time each day to address your well-being is a healthy practice that could help you sleep better at night. Research shows that journaling increased physical well-being by strengthening immune cells known as T-lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell needed to fight infection (8). One study even indicated that journaling decreased the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis (8).
Although it may be tempting to take a nap during the day after a bad night of sleep, don’t do it! Napping could make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. If your body gets used to sleeping during the day, it will learn that it doesn’t need to at night.
If you must nap, make sure it’s before 3 pm and try not to let it go beyond 30 minutes. Your goal should be to sleep for the shortest amount of time possible to restore brain function without disrupting your circadian cycle.
Instead of napping, try closing your eyes for five or ten minutes in a relaxing setting and allowing yourself to recharge. Avoid drinking excessive amounts of caffeine to get you through the day as this will also keep you awake at night.
According to a 2011 poll, approximately 92 percent of people say that a comfortable bed is needed for a good night’s sleep (9). Yet, so many people are sleeping on the wrong mattress, and it costs them their health.
Research shows that a properly fitted mattress could reduce your stress levels (10). The study found that subjects who slept on a new, medium-firm mattress decreased their pain and increased their sleep time.
If you can’t afford a new mattress, it might be beneficial to at least upgrade your bedding. One study found that new bedding may improve sleep based on a pseudo placebo effect. In other words, it might feel like you have a new bed even if you don’t (10). It may also be helpful to add an allergy-proof slipcover over the mattress to keep out any dust mites.
Turn your bedroom into a dedicated sleep space by keeping work and all other activities besides sex out of it. This will help your brain associate your bedroom with sleep. When you use your room as a multi-purpose area, your brain associates it with various activities, such as watching television, playing video games, or working on a computer.
You may also want to invest in upgrades to your bedroom to make it the perfect sleep station. A new mattress and comfortable bed sheets can help you get the rest you need while a blackout sleep shade can keep the light out. Adding a white noise machine or fan to your sleep environment may also help. Make your room as comfortable as possible, so you look forward to sleeping every night.
Sleeping in might sound like a nice way to spend your Saturday morning, but it can also throw off your sleep schedule. Your body works best when you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends. Even if you go to sleep a few hours later on the weekend, try to wake up at the same time every day, so you don’t fall out of sync with your circadian cycle.
Eventually, you should get to the point where you don’t need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. Many people refer to their “internal alarm clock” waking them up at the same time every day. This is a sign that your circadian cycle is in sync and you’ve gotten enough sleep for the night.
If you’re always tired in the morning, it’s probably because you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. Make a conscious effort to go to bed a few hours earlier each night by setting the alarm or a timer. When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and go to sleep.
Setting the alarm to go to bed can help you establish a nighttime routine. If you’re getting into the habit of relaxing at night before bed, choose an alarm or timer that is relaxing, such as soothing music. Try to have a different alarm to go to sleep as you do for waking up in the morning. The different alarms should be able to help train your brain what to do when it heads each sound.
According to a 1999 study, having warm feet and hands predicts the onset of sleep (11). The study found that the degree of blood vessel dilation in the skin of the hands and feet was the best way to predict how soon a person would fall asleep (11).
Your body prepares itself for sleep earlier in the evening as sleepiness increases by dropping its core body temperature. Lying down increases your sleepiness as it redistributes heat in the body. Turning out the lights to go to bed causes your blood vessels to dilate, which changes your body temperature.
The study suggests that putting a hot water bottle at your feet helps your blood vessels dilate without affecting the central nervous system to allow you to fall asleep faster (11). Putting on warm socks before you go to bed may produce similar results. You may even want to sleep with gloves on if your hands are always cold and pull them off in the night if you get too warm.
It can be devastating to ask your pets to sleep outside of the bedroom, but keep in mind that they are another body in the bed that moves around and keeps you awake. In addition to moving around or making noises during the night, pets bring in danger that you might be allergic to. Invest in a nice bed for your pet to sleep in just outside your room, so they still feel close to you without keeping you awake.
Pets are also known to carry fleas and other things you might not want in your bedroom. A bug infestation can be hard to get out once it makes its way into your sheets and mattress. If you decide to allow your pet to sleep with you, be sure to clean your room regularly. Vacuum the carpets, wash all sheets and wipe down the wooden bed frame to get rid of any bugs that might be hiding.
If your partner consistently steals the covers from you, or if you do the same, consider getting a different set of blankets for each of you. To start, use one fitted sheet. Then cover the top of the sheet with another set of sheets and blankets for two twin size beds. If you’re worried that this may look suspicious to guests, cover the two sets of twin blankets and sheets with a large comforter to hide them.
Sleeping with separate blankets can help you remain close to your partner without stealing each other's covers. Your first layer should be fitted to the size of bed you have and the top blankets should be twin size to fit the both of you individually. If you are always cold, invest in an electrical or thicker blanket while your partner picks a blanket to his or her liking.
L-tryptophan is an amino acid that has mood regulating abilities. It has been shown to balance hormones to help you sleep better naturally. It also has natural sedative properties that help reverse sleep apnea and insomnia (12). Some research suggests that l-tryptophan is most effective when taken in combination with other sedative herbs. Examples include GABA, valerian root, and chamomile.
One study found that sleep apnea patients who took 2.5 grams of tryptophan before bed improved their REM sleep. They also decreased the amount of time it took them to enter REM sleep. The study stated that when you don’t get enough REM sleep, it increases your risk of being fatigued and impacts your concentration levels the next day. In some cases, not enough REM sleep may cause narcolepsy or involuntary falling asleep during the day (13).
Along with replacing your mattress, you may also want to replace your pillows to help get a good night sleep. Research shows that you should replace your pillow every 12 to 18 months to keep dust mites at bay. Most people never change their pillows. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it might be time for an upgrade.
It’s also important to make sure you’re sleeping with the right pillow. People who sleep on their stomachs may prefer a thin, flat pillow while side sleepers need something firmer to support their neck. It may help to sleep with a pillow in between your knees to keep your hips in line. If you wake up sore or achy first thing in the morning, it could be a sign that you’re sleeping with the wrong pillow.
Research shows that how you’re sleeping might be a major reason as to why you’re not sleeping. According to Sleep.org, the best position for the most effective sleep is on your back (14). Sleeping on your back allows your spine to align with your head and neck in a neutral position for the most painless rest. It does not put pressure on other areas of your body, which makes it an ideal position for sleep.
If you suffer from acid reflux, sleeping on your side might be best. It’s also a good option if you suffer from back or neck pain as you won’t be applying pressure to those areas. Approximately 41 percent of Americans sleep in the fetal position (14), but this may restrict breathing and cause joint or muscle pain. Sleeping on your stomach is a good way to prevent snoring but can cause neck pain as it's hard to keep your spine neutral.
Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that may prevent you from sleeping. According to a 2008 study, smokers are four times more likely to experience sleep disturbances that make them feel tired when they wake up (15). The study found that smokers go through nicotine withdrawal when they sleep at night, which makes them wake up frequently.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms almost every organ in the body (16). The best way to reduce withdrawal effects is to quit smoking altogether. Smoking also comes with a host of other health problems that may disrupt sleep, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
Long-term smokers may need to seek professional help to kick the habit as nicotine is highly addictive and hard to beat on your own. Check with your local community center for free classes or meetings to help you quit.
Yes, a sleep coach is a real thing. According to a 2016 Consumers Report, a sleep coach is someone who visits your home and offers suggestions about your sleep environment (17). Sleep coaches usually charge about $75 to $150 an hour and most insurances don’t cover them, but they might be a good idea if you’re desperate for sleep advice.
Look for a sleep coach with proven experience or education, such as in a healthcare field. A nurse or sleep specialist would make a great coach as they can offer credible advice. They can also help you pick out curtains and make your bedding and sleep area as comfortable as possible if you’re not sure where to start. Ask your doctor or a similar qualified health professional to give you recommendations on a valid coach.
Sleep therapists are available to help you get the rest you need. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of treatment that has been shown to treat insomnia. It involves retraining your brain and thought patterns to allow you to sleep at night. This may include channeling stressful or worrisome thoughts that may be keeping you awake to more positive ones.
According to the National Institute of Health, cognitive behavioral therapy is a safe and effective way to treat chronic insomnia (18). A behavioral sleep therapist is usually a trained professional that is more likely to be covered by insurance than a sleep coach. They may ask you to keep a journal of your sleep problems and perform in-office scenarios of possible insomnia causes to redirect your thoughts.
Some research suggests that you should get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep within a certain amount of time. The idea is to train your brain that the bedroom is for sleeping. If you’re laying in bed and can’t sleep, it may be torturesome to remain there.
If you haven’t fallen asleep after 30 minutes of lying down, consider getting up and doing something else for 20 to 30 minutes until you feel tired. Be sure you’re not getting up to watch television or scroll through your phone. Taking a hot bath or reading a book is a good idea, but be aware that any light exposure will suppress melatonin levels and make it harder to fall asleep. Listening to calming music in the dark while closing your eyes may help. When you return to bed, your mind should be relaxed and able to drift off to sleep easier.
Stress is one of the main reasons why most people can’t sleep at night. When you are stressed, your muscles tense up. Studies show that progressive muscle relaxation may be able to reduce fatigue and improve sleep quality. Progressive muscle relaxation is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that can be used to relax every muscle in the body so you can get to sleep faster.
To perform progressive muscle relaxation, tense or contract one muscle group at a time and hold it there for ten seconds. Relax the muscle group and repeat three times for each major muscle. Be conscious of the weight of your body. Breathe in as you contract each muscle and exhale as you relax. Feel the stress and tension leave your body as you relax and exhale.
Certain essential oils have been shown to produce a calming effect when sniffed or applied to the skin. According to a 2008 study, a group of women with insomnia who smelled lavender essential oil had an easier time falling asleep (19). Another study found that smelling lavender oil before bed helped subjects fall into a deeper sleep (20).
Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a hot bath, an eye mask, or even your pillowcase or mattress. You can also take a whiff before crawling into bed or diffuse lavender essential oil at night to help you relax. Lavender oil can be added to just about any beauty product, such as shampoo or lotion. Applying a homemade skin cream with lavender oil may help you smell it all night long.
Valerian root has been shown to treat insomnia and anxiety to help you sleep better. A Swedish study found that 44 percent of subjects who took valerian reported having a perfect sleep while 89 percent reported improved sleep (21). The study also found that unlike many prescription sleep medications, valerian root had no side effects.
Valerian root is also an effective anti-anxiety herb. A 2009 study concluded that it increases a chemical in the brain called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulates nerve cells and induces relaxation (22). Many prescription anti-anxiety drugs work by altering the amount of GABA in your brain. Valerian root contains the active ingredients valerenic acid and valernol that naturally enhance GABA without the side effects of prescription medication.
If you’ve ever been told you can’t do something and it makes you work harder to prove you can, then this technique may be useful for you.
According to a small study published in the Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy journal, using reverse psychology may be able to alleviate sleep anxiety. Results show that subjects with sleep-onset insomnia who were told to lay in bed with their eyes open and not fall asleep were more likely to fall asleep quicker (23). Subjects in the reverse psychology group also showed less sleep performance anxiety.
While sleep experts don’t recommend using reverse psychology for long-term treatment, it can work when you’re in a pinch.
When you’re tossing and turning in bed, the worst thing you can do is look at the clock. All it does is make you stress out about how many more hours of sleep you have until you need to wake up. Try hiding your clock or phone, so you don’t see the time.
If you feel stuck in the middle of the night, try meditating right there in bed. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Take deep inhales in and out and exhale the anxiety out of your body. If you can’t fall asleep after ten minutes of doing this, consider getting out of bed for a few moments until you’re ready to lay back down and try again. Just make sure you avoid looking at the clock because it will only stress you out more.
Some experts claim that the 4-7-8 method is guaranteed to make you fall asleep in less than one minute. It works by increasing your blood oxygen levels, reducing your heart rate, and freeing the lungs of carbon dioxide. It also helps you relax and focus on your breathing, which is one of the main principles behind meditation.
To perform this, push your tongue to the top of your mouth just behind your upper front teeth. Keep the tongue there throughout the entire exercise. Exhale through your mouth while making a “swoosh” sound. Close your mouth and quietly inhale through the nose using a four count. Hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale through your mouth while making the swoosh sound again. Repeat the exercise for a total of four breaths.
If stress keeps you awake at night, it might be a good idea to practice imaginative therapy. Close your eyes and picture a place in your mind that makes you happy and feel relaxed. The purpose of the exercise is to take your mind off worrisome thoughts and redirect your attention to a place of calmness.
One study found that people with insomnia who were told to picture a relaxing scene fell asleep 20 minutes quicker than those who were told to count sheep or do nothing at all (24). Examples of relaxing places include a waterfall or a beach. Imagining a particular moment in your life that brought you happiness may also be effective. The idea is to redirect your thoughts from stressful ones to enjoyable or relaxing ones.
Date night doesn’t have to interfere with your sleep. Instead, try incorporating relaxing techniques into your date, such as eating dinner by candlelight. It’s romantic and will decrease your exposure to light, which stimulates the production of melatonin to make you sleepy.
Obviously, you will want to prepare your meal in full light so you can see what you’re doing. Ask your partner to dim the lights and enjoy your meal by candlelight. Make sure the meal is on the lighter side, so you don’t stay awake late at night digesting a heavy meal. Eating slower, engaging in a relaxing conversation, and enjoying the candlelight should help relax you before bed. To increase feelings of sleepiness, make sure your candles are lavender scented.
According to an article posted in The New York Post, blowing bubbles right before bed may help you fall asleep quicker (25). Doctor Rachel Marie E. Salas, professor of neurology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, stated that blowing bubbles calms the mind and body similar to the way a deep breathing exercise does. She says that because it’s such a silly activity, it takes your mind off stressful thoughts that keep you awake.
If you’re not sold on the idea of blowing bubbles, try sitting in a cozy chair and closing your eyes right before bed. Focus on counting your breath for up to 15 minutes. This exercise can produce the same relaxing results. When your mind drifts from your breath, start back at one and begin counting again.
Have you ever been kept awake at night thinking about what you need to do tomorrow? Try making a list.
Before you head to bed, make a list of everything you need to do the next day. Dedicate no more than 10 minutes to thinking about your day tomorrow and then go to sleep. Be as detailed as you want but make a point to put it out of your mind as soon as you’re done.
Writing out your to-do list for the next day should help put you at ease enough to fall asleep. Take your list with you to work or review it as you sit down for breakfast and make notes. You’ll be better organized for the day and will sleep better at night.
Acupuncture has long been used as a form of treatment for everything from infertility to depression. Recent research shows it can also be used to treat insomnia. Results from a 2009 collective analysis of studies determined acupuncture to be an effective form of treatment for insomnia. The research found that when used in combination with sleep medications, acupuncture improved sleep quality in patients. Similarly, when acupuncture was used in conjunction with herbal treatment, patients experienced better sleep (26).
You can perform a modified form of acupuncture at home without the needles by following these steps:
Listening to calming music before bed may be able to help you fall asleep. A 2008 study found that relaxing classical music was an effective remedy for treating insomnia in nurses. The music therapy also decreased depression (27).
You can use music therapy in combination with a few other relaxing techniques, such as taking a hot bath with lavender essential oil. You can even quietly listen to calming music in bed if you’re tossing and turning in place of watching television. Just be sure you’re not listening to a device that emits light.
L-theanine is a compound found in tea that has relaxing properties. Research shows it can also treat depression and regulate your sleep cycle.
If you can’t sleep because you’ve had too much caffeine, l-theanine can help. Caffeine stays in the body for 10 hours, so you may still feel its effects even if you stopped drinking early in the day. L-theanine neutralizes the jittery way you feel after drinking too much caffeine (28).
Another study found that supplementing with l-theanine didn’t make subjects sleep longer but it improved their quality of sleep. Subjects reported feeling like they slept longer than they actually had (28).
Finally, l-theanine helps relax you without causing drowsiness. One study asked subjects to monitor their brain waves while supplementing with l-theanine. Results showed that their brain wave lines smoothed out but did not flatten (28).
If a new baby in the house is keeping you awake at night, take turns tending to your bundle of joy with your partner. It might help to alternate nights so that either you or your partner can get a full night’s rest instead of alternating every time the baby cries. For example, if you get up with the baby one night, ask your partner to take over the next time so you can rest and so on.
Avoid the temptation to let older children sleep with you as this may become a hard habit to break. If your kids are having a tough night, offer to lay with them in their bed until they fall asleep and then you can crawl back into yours.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in your brain that signals sleepiness. It is stimulated by darkness and is suppressed with exposure to light. When your circadian cycle is in sync, it naturally releases melatonin so you can get to sleep. But if your sleep cycle has been throw off or you just need a hand getting to sleep, try taking an herbal supplement with melatonin.
Passion flower can be used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and depression. According to a 2014 study, supplementing with passion flower helped patients with bipolar disorder sleep better (30). Although you can take passion flower alone, taking it in combination with valerian root may be even more beneficial by calming nerve cells in the brain.
According to a 2010 study, tart cherry juice may be able to help induce sleep in older patients with insomnia. It also has fewer side effects than other herbal remedies (29).
Tart cherry juice is high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids that have been shown to treat chronic pain and gout. Be sure to look for juice that contains no added sugar as this will keep you awake. Eating a handful of fresh tart cherries is also efficient and provides you with the added benefits of fiber to control blood sugar levels.
While reading a book is a good way to prepare for sleep, it often requires you to turn on a light. Listening to an e-book can take the light out of the equation as long as you use don’t use a smartphone or tablet.
If you do use a smartphone or another electronic device, be sure that no lights are visible. Set a timer, so the book turns off on its own. The last thing you want to do is get up to turn off the book just as you doze off.