How to Get To Sleep
Because I have suffered from sleep disturbances my entire life, I am always curious to know the latest in sleep research. If you are reading this, chances are you are experiences some sleep issues of your own. Here are some practical things I have learned that may help you in your quest for How to Get Better Sleep. Of everything I have read over the years the real bottom line is that you really have to get to know yourself! What is the collection of habits that trigger you to sleep and wake? Maybe you don’t realize that exercising in the evenings amps you up and causes you to be restless. Perhaps you didn’t know that your particular metabolism requires you to eat early to avoid digesting food while your body is trying to rest. Discovering your needs requires you to open your mind to ideas you may have already tried. I know that this is more difficult than it sounds because like you, I have been hopeful and defeated so many times that it is hard to think of putting yourself through that again. The important thing to note is that what you have tried before may not have worked then but it could be tweaked to be a perfect fit for you now.
If I told you that trying “something” every night at the same time and the same way for 10 days might unlock a sleep secret for you, you might be inclined to give it a try. It could be doing a relaxation meditation in your bed (even if you feel silly), doing two hundred jumping jacks (to wear yourself out), or even just training your brain to go to sleep after watching the same TV show at the same time night after night.
Get to Know Yourself
Every person is so different from one another that there is no one cure for all. A glass of wine might make some people drowsy, where for others wine may lead to a night of restlessness. One person may swear by wearing a cold compress on their forehead at night while others may get nothing but a headache. You may think that your pillow is comfortable, but trying out different fillers and thickness may help you realize that all this time you needed something different! Get to know what your triggers are for sleep and what your triggers are for staying awake. Even simple things like carbs and sugar a few hours before bed may be a hidden secret to your insomnia. You can keep a journal over a few weeks to help see patterns and trends in your activities, stressors, diet, exercise and more that lead to a good night sleep or a fitful night.
Open Your Mind to Ideas You May Have Already Tried
Chances are if you are struggling with sleep, you have acquired a long list of failed advice. I have learned however, that something that did not work a long time ago may work today. And something that may not work at 10 pm at night may be just the thing at 2 am. For example, sleeping in complete darkness with noise cancelling ear plugs will NEVER put me to sleep in the evening. I have too much racing through my mind and a fear of not falling to sleep. The last thing I need is to hear all that clutter in my head! What I need at 9 o’clock is a distraction, not peace and quiet. But when my eyes fly open at 2 am, the last thing I should do is get up and get distracted because I will never fall back to sleep. Being silent and restful at that time is what my mind needs at that particular time. Don’t rule something out just because it didn’t work before. It may be just the trick!
Train Your Brain To Sleep
You honestly do have to train your brain to take signals from its surroundings. If your brain is currently wired to engage in restlessness it may have become a habit by now. Give your brain a new routine. Once you know yourself and your triggers, and once you have tried every old solution again to see which ones may work this time, you are ready to make a sleep plan for yourself. If a newborn can be sleep trained than I know you can! Make a list of the habits you are going to perform each night that will get your brain accustomed to winding down and going to sleep.
I am super busy at night so this is especially difficult for me. I work and scramble until the last minute then freak out about how late it is and stress in my bed about not being able to sleep. If this describes you too then you are going to want to have a shorter routine at bedtime. Give yourself 15- 20 minutes to wind down once you get into bed. If you do not have a routine, chances are that you will toss and turn for an hour or more anyway, so get on board to helping yourself out and make a plan that you can stick to. If you are a person who does have some time at night try giving yourself 30 minutes or more to follow your routine. Here are some ideas that you could use to schedule your nightly routine. Write everything down on a specific order and follow it as closely as you can every night.
TIP: Don’t get hung up on keeping close track of the time during your new schedule. This will only stress you out!
Ideas to Include In A Sleep Schedule
- Wash face – Add pampering products like lavender scrub and cool lotion to your routine. Using the senses to train your brain really works!
- Shower or soak in the bath – Again, using the senses to tell your brain it is time to sleep is key!
- Exercise – jumping rope in the living room or running a mile at the track – whatever wears you out
- Relaxation “mediation” on mp3 – I like ones that asks you to tense and tighten muscles and then release and relax from toes to face. It occupies the mind and relaxes the body.
- Take prescribed or natural remedy sleeping pill a certain amount of time before trying to fall asleep
- Eat a snack so that you don’t wake up hungry in the night (or no food and water if you will wake)
- Go To Your “”Happy Place” where you can get away from your mind and your negativity!
- Read an engaging book to occupy your mind (Research shows conclusively that reading on devices that have back light stimulates the brain. I have learned that for me, it is exactly the thing to get me to sleep!)
- Watch the same regularly scheduled TV show so that when your brain hears the familiar sounds it will know that sleep is ahead. (This does NOT work for me currently. I am kept awake by television in the bedroom and it is not relaxing to me. Although, many years back I would watch the Simpsons before bed and get tired on schedule 10 minutes before the show would end. Keep re-trying those strategies!)
- Turn on a white noise machine, relaxing music or ceiling fan.
Conclusion There is no one cure-all for insomnia and what works for you today may not work for you in a day or a week or a few months from now. Keep re-trying old solutions even if you have tried them unsuccessfully before. Keep a journal when trying and re-trying strategies so that you can discover new things about yourself that you can use to get better rest. Set a plan and stick to it long enough to see if it works. Don’t give up after a day or a week or two. Your mind and body need time to put up a little resistance before getting in the new groove. Stay positive and stay with it.
Have you ever heard that it takes 21 days to turn something into a habit? My research has helped me to know that there is really no set time period for creating a habit because again it is dependent on the individual. Just give yourself time for your brain and body to catch on. And don’t be discouraged. If you have had insomnia before and you are reading this because you are dealing with it again (or still), chances are you may have to deal with this for your lifetime. Don’t stress over it! Every one of us has things that are our burden to bear. This means that we accept the fact that we have to try harder at some things more than others and be positive that it will all work out in the end. If you have some ideas that have worked for you in the past, please be kind enough to leave them in the comments below to help out other readers. IF you think you are on to something right now that either trigger you to stay awake or to fall asleep leave that too. You might just inspire someone to look in an option that they didn’t know they had available to them.
Goodnight and Sleep Tight my dapper friends!