Tips for Falling Asleep at Night

I didn’t always think quality sleep was so necessary (Read: How Getting More Sleep Changed My Life), but after finding out how it affected my concentration, mood and even weight, I knew I needed to change something.  I eventually figured out How to Create the Perfect Sleep Environment, which helped immensely.  Through research and personal experience, I have also learned a few tips and tricks for the actual falling asleep part.

Tips for Falling Asleep at Night:

  1. Wind down an hour before you hope to be asleep, preferably in the room where you will be sleeping.
  2. Turn off technology a couple of hours before bedtime.  The blue light that emits from TVs, cell-phones, and computer screens disrupts melatonin production and tells the body to stay awake!
  3. Establish a bedtime routine. If you have children or think back to your childhood, most of us had a bedtime routine. Maybe it was dinner, bath time, or reading a book all snuggled under the covers with mom or dad, then possibly requesting a drink of water to stay up later. A bedtime routine, however, is necessary at any age. As we grow into adolescence, and the need to assert our independence arises, bedtimes get pushed later. As demands grow during during college and into professional life, many of us get even less shut-eye, and we can easily forget what it feels like to get to bed at the same time (and a decent time) every night.

Here are a few suggestions for creating a healthy bedtime routine :

  • Turn lights down low.
  • Have a cup of decaffeinated tea and read a book.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Read the bible or a relaxing book.
  • Pick up the house and get things ready for the morning.
  • Wake up at the same time every morning. It seems counter-intuitive when you stay up late to wake up early, but this will ensure that your sleep cycle stays on track. This will also probably reduce your chances of waking up late on Monday morning.
  • Avoid afternoon caffeine if you can. It is understandable that you may experience an afternoon slump, but try to take a walk outside to boost your energy level instead of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If you cannot go without that afternoon caffeine boost, but usually have caffeine at night as well, start with eliminating caffeine from your evening ritual.
  • Avoid doing work right before bed. Working on a project or something that causes even a little bit of stress and/or brain power will keep your brain a-buzz even after you head to bed.
  • Write down all of your worries or concerns. If a racing mind prevents you from falling asleep, keep a notepad next to your bed to write down a to-do list or anything that is concerning you, and deal with it in the morning. There is no use in worrying about something you cannot do anything about at night.
  • Exercise regularly. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who consider themselves “exercisers” report more shut-eye each night. It makes sense, right? Wear yourself out and you will be more likely to crash at night. Also, don’t worry too much about what time you do your workout, unless you have personally noticed adverse effects from late night workouts. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people experience no trouble sleeping even when working out 30 minutes before bed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in an effort to fall asleep. An article on WebMD states that a review of 27 studies found that alcohol does not improve sleep but actually negatively affects REM sleep. Even though alcohol may help you feel drowsy, the negative effects outweigh the perceived benefit.
  • Pray. If you truly cannot fall asleep, take that time to pray for loved ones. Having something positive to focus on can help you drift peacefully to sleep and, if anything, it is time well spent, not wasted.

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
Do you have a bedtime routine established?

References: 2013 Sleep in America Poll by The National Sleep Foundation, Alcohol and a Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix found on Web MD

Originally posted 2013-09-02 20:47:15.

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