If you’ve ever laid in bed, tossing and turning, and can’t fall asleep, you’re not alone.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, sleep seems to elude you.
The problem is that this lack or irregularity of sleep has so many effects on our health and our productivity.
A study published in Nature of Science and Sleep journal characterized a normal sleep in the following ways:
- Lasts for a sufficient duration
- Is of good quality
- Involves appropriate timing and regularity, and
- Has the absence of sleep disturbances and disorders (e.g. sleep paralysis).
The study goes on to say that lifestyle and environmental factors, psychosocial issues, and medical conditions all contribute to sleep problems.
Hang on tight, because, in the rest of this article, we will discuss specific things you can if you can’t fall asleep.
1. Stay away from bright light
If you can’t fall asleep, one thing you can do is to take a closer look at your bedroom.
Bedroom environments including ventilation, temperature, and color are key to having the perfect sleep-induced environment for any bedroom.
Take lighting in the bedroom for example. Research shows that even dim light can interfere with your sleep. And light is a major reason why people can’t fall asleep.
You can consider using dim red lights for night lights instead of blue light. Dim red light is more powerful at suppressing melatonin secretion and helps you sleep better.
One study by Harvard researchers reported that blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light.
But that’s not all.
Blue light also shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
Stay away from bright screens around two to three hours before you go to bed.
2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Work seems to be the one thing that takes up a greater portion of every other weekday.
And on weekends, we try to make up for lost time with our friends, family, and other equally important activities.
But then again, sleep seems to be the one thing that we don’t seem to make adequate time for.
To have a better chance of sleeping well, we need to strive to develop and maintain a sleep routine.
A good way is to have specific times to call it a day (or quit from working).
This routine tends to give the body and mind a definite start and finish time for the completion of the rejuvenation process.
3. Avoid caffeine in the evening
When we drink coffee or any beverage with caffeine in the mornings, it helps us stay active during the day and through our line of work.
However, if you take this 6 hours before sleep, you’d likely find it difficult to sleep earlier.
And this could also mean lessening the quality of sleep we wish to have.
4. Listen to relaxing music
The quality of sleep is not just how many hours you sleep. Sure, that matters.
But often, the most important factor in the quality of sleep is whether we indeed rested during the state of sleep.
The lack of sleep quality is why you’ll find people complain that although they sleep for several hours, they wake tired.
More sleep hours doesn’t necessarily equal better rest.
A good rest depends on how well your brain waves slow down and the initial 90 minutes after falling asleep (a stage known as Rapid Eye Movement in the sleep cycle).
Listening to music while sleeping can help facilitate these stages.
Researchers split the participants into two groups: 25 to the music group and the other 25 to a control group.
Participants in the music group listened to soothing music for 45 min at nocturnal sleep time. The control group did not.
It turns out that the group that listened to music significantly increased their rested state during sleep.
And it also shortened the time their brain waves shut down.
5. Say no to large meals at night
For most of us, our work schedules during the day making it almost impossible to have breaks to eat.
And so we try to make up for this by eating large when we get home in the night.
This habit, which needless to say is not healthy, in turn, causes indigestion and disrupts our sleep.
To break this habit, it is either we have to make time for eating well during the day or stick to light healthy snacks in the evenings to help better our night sleep.
6. Avoid taking liquids before bed
How annoying is it to wake up several times only to go and urinate in the middle of your sleep? Very annoying.
Little do we know that it is because of the time we take in anything liquid before bed that causes this.
Ideally, we are not to take anything liquid between an hour or two before bed. Doing otherwise increases our chances of waking up to urinate.
Also, it is advisable to urinate immediately before bed to reduce this habit of waking up to urinate in the middle of the night.
Being active during the day will help you fall asleep faster at night. So take that opportunity to keep your body fit.
Your goal is to stay active.
But remember, avoid working out right before bed as this is most likely to keep you awake – the exact opposite of what you want.