You don’t have to be a chronic insomniac to feel the effects that stress can have on your sleeping pattern. If you can’t remember the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, it’s time to make some pro-active lifestyle changes.
1. While trying to fall asleep, think in images, not in words.
According to Scott Adams: “It’s impossible to clear your mind of all thoughts. But I find it somewhat easy to switch off the language center of my brain. What happens after that is a flow of images, starting with ones that make some sense to my current life, quickly followed by randomness, then sleep. It usually takes less than a minute.”
2. Instead of stressing out about not falling asleep, make relaxation the goal.
The more you stress out about not being able to fall asleep, the more likely you are to remain painfully awake. Instead, know that relaxing your mind and body will still rejuvenate the body. It’s psychological — once you’re not agitated about not getting to sleep, it’ll come much more naturally.
3. Make a to-do list the night before to free your mind of upcoming tasks.
If you’re under a lot of stress, writing down the next day’s tasks will make life seem more manageable. And you’ll stop dwelling on trying to remember all of them.
4. Breathe through your nose.
Not only will it prevent snoring, but it provides more oxygenation, so you can take those deep breaths that help to relax the body. Use Breathe Right strips if you’re stuffy.
*Apparently there are all kinds of side effects that come with breathing out of your mouth. You’re more susceptible to germs and sickness, and your lips dry out.
5. Use the SleepCycle app as your alarm clock.
SleepCycle uses your iPhone to monitor the tiny movements in your sleep. Once you set it as an alarm, it wakes you up at an approximate time at the lightest point of your sleep, so you don’t wake up all groggy.
There is also a special watch that provides a similar service.
6. Go to the website Sleepyti.me and determine the right bedtime.
Enter in your wake-up time and the Sleepyti.me calculator will give you a bedtime that ensures you wake up between REM sleep cycles. You’ll feel much more refreshed in the morning.
7. Once you’ve found your perfect bed time, keep a regular sleep schedule.
EVEN ON THE WEEKENDS.
8. Eat breakfast within one hour of waking.
Not only should your sleeping be on a regular schedule, but so should your eating. Breakfast resets your body clock, much like sunlight.
9. Use a program like Fl.ux to reduce the blue light emitting from your computer and smartphone.
It eliminates the eye strain from the harsh light that inhibits melatonin production (the hormone that’s responsible for making you feel tired).
10. Wear BluBlocker sunglasses if you’re going to use the computer or watch TV.
These sunglasses work to block blue light.
11. If you MUST watch television, put on a very familiar show or movie. Watch three minutes of it and then turn away.
Imagine the dialogue as images in your head.
12. Turn on white noise if you’re a light sleeper, or turn on a fan.
13. Or try Pzizz.
It’s a special soundtrack of dual tones designed to help you get to sleep instantly.People swear by it.
14. Invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Put on your own personal sleep soundtrack and block out everything else. They give the sensation that the sounds are being played right in your skull — making it easy to focus on the music and not your wayward thoughts.
15. The best room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 degrees.
Not too cold. Not too hot.
16. Take a hot bath or shower before bed.
Once you emerge from the bath, your body will experience a temperature drop, putting you into a deeper sleep.
17. Take the stairs.
Exercise is obviously a great way to tire your body out, but it might not be realistic given your time schedule. Even a small amount of exercise like walking up a few flights of stairs will help to tire your body out when it comes time to hit the sack.
18. Don’t exercise within 3 hours of bedtime.
You’ll still be feeling the exhilarating effects of increased energy.
19. Eat a light, early dinner, and then a 150-calorie low-carb snack before bedtime.
You don’t want to be starving, and you don’t want a full stomach either. Carbs and sugar also mess with your body’s natural energy levels, so avoid them in the evenings. Turkey, yogurt, soy beans, tuna, and peanuts are all protein-packed snacks that contain tryptophan.
20. Wear a sleep mask.
You might have to experiment to find the most comfortable fit for your face, but sleeping in total darkness will increase your melatonin production.
21. Essential oils like peppermint and chamomile are calming and relaxing.
Dab some behind your ears and onto your wrists, or leave a few drops on the pillow before going to sleep.
22. Downgrade to half-caf.
In other words, if you must have your coffee, drink a half-caffeinated, half-decaffeinated concoction in the morning. It will be less likely to mess with your sleep patterns, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
23. Maintain a nightly routine.
Do the same thing, every night, for at least an hour before bedtime. Whether it’s reading, doing a crossword puzzle, or taking a bath, these things will all work as sleep triggers. Make a playlist of a few songs and listen to that same playlist every night as you fall asleep. Your brain will begin to associate those things with bedtime.
24. Learn a few bedtime yoga stretches.
You can do this whole series while lying in bed. Not only should you be doing this before bedtime, but it’s a great thing to do after you’ve been tossing and turning for awhile. Instead of just lying awake, you’re working on calming your body and regulating the breath.
25. If you still can’t get to sleep after lying awake for 30 minutes, indulge in some low-light reading until you feel tired again.
Preferably from a real book.