If just thinking about hitting the sack makes you anxious, you may have a sleep problem. Millions of Americans struggle with insomnia, but fortunately there are many methods you can use to fight it. Try these simple ways to fall asleep, and you will be counting sheep in no time.
1. Avoid Sleep-Related Anxiety
Stress over sleep is so common for adults that it would be odd if you did not struggle to get to sleep from time to time. Not getting enough sleep is a major source of anxiety for many people, so it is important to nip it in the bud. It can be a vicious cycle: You go to bed stressed, and then you cannot get to sleep. Pretty soon, it is 1 a.m. and you are freaking out about the sleep you are not getting. In the moment, your best bet is to try to minimize the anxiety sleep is causing. If you cannot get to sleep within about 20-30 minutes of laying down for bed, get up and do a soothing activity to get your mind off the stress before trying again.
2. Create a Sleeping Environment
Good sleep is a physical practice, not unlike yoga or even CrossFit. You would not attempt a 200-lb deadlift without the proper equipment, and your sleep deserves the same care. Take a look at your room and answer the following questions:
- Is the mattress comfortable?
- Is my bedding appropriately warm, but not too hot?
- Could I use white noise to block out random sounds outside?
- Is the room dark enough?
Your goal is to have a clean, uncluttered space to allow you to relax. Avoid garish designs in the bedroom that distract you from restful thoughts. Minimize your use of technological devices in the 30 minutes prior to bedtime. All of these will help promote an environment that is more conducive to sleep for you.
3. Practice Mindfulness
When people start to panic about their lack of sleep, there are two basic approaches you can take: distraction and mindfulness.
In the moment, distraction may seem like the default choice, since it helps you to forget the current problem you are facing. However, the moment you pick up your phone and start browsing Twitter, the blue lighting of the screen starts to wake you up. Instead of bailing on sleep, try a mindfulness exercise first.
The practice of mindfulness calls for you to focus intently on your body’s behavior. Count your breathing for a few minutes, tighten and relax your muscles from big to small, and you will soon find your body relaxing naturally.
4. Consider Sleep Aids Carefully
In some cases, you may want to consider using a sleep aid to help you get to sleep and stay asleep all night. There are many useful tools, but you should look at all of them carefully, talk to your doctor and avoid using them as a first resort.
Ambien is probably the best known of prescription sleep aids, but the zombie-like potential side effects should encourage you to treat it with absolute caution. A small dose of over-the-counter melatonin, the sleep hormone, may be all you need to get on track. Just remember that melatonin is not intended to be taken long-term, or to solve more complicated sleep disorders.
Inability to sleep well is a serious problem that is as common as cat memes on Tumblr. If you give these sleeping tips a whirl, you may decrease your stress and make your awake time more productive.