We’ve all been there – those nights where you toss and turn, staring at the clock, every minute seeming impossibly slow. Not being able to fall asleep is a frustrating experience for everyone (and so is having to endure the next day in a sleep-deprived haze), and sleeping pills should only be last resort.
Fortunately, there are a few scientifically-backed natural methods that can help you knock yourself out for the night. Try these out and see which ones work for you.
1. Hide the clock
Yep, that scenario outlined above is actually part of the problem! Watching the clock only increases your anxiety about not being able to sleep; plus, the light from a digital clock can interfere with sleep problems. Cover it or turn it away from your face.
2. Turn off the electronics half an hour before bedtime
Watching TV or browsing the Internet prevents your brain from being able to wind down and prepare for sleep. Engage in a calming activity instead, like listening to classical music, having a cup of tea, or reading a book. (Bonus: all three of those things are linked to improved sleep quality.)
3. Keep your bedroom cool
Science shows that you fall asleep faster (and sleep better) when your core body temperature (influenced by your environment) is lower. Set the thermostat to about 20 degrees.
4. Exercise during the day (but not within 3 hours of bedtime)
Physical activity helps reduce stress levels, so your body will be able to relax when it needs to. But a morning or afternoon workout is your best bet: sleeping will be even harder if you have adrenaline coursing through your body.
5. Experiment with aromatherapy
Certain scents have been shown to have calming effects on the body, particularly lavender, vanilla, and sandalwood. Dab a few drops on your pillow or use a diffuser.
6. Set a bedtime
If you go to bed at 9 pm one night and midnight the next, your body’s natural rhythms will get confused. Sleeping at the same time each night helps condition a sleep response. (And yes, this includes weekends.)
7. Invest in a quality mattress
Yes, they can be expensive, but when you consider that you spend a third of your life on your mattress, and a bad one can cause back problems, aches, and sleep loss, it starts sounding a lot more worth it. You may even want to consult a sleep specialist to make sure you’re getting one that’s best for you.
8. Keep your feet warm
Wear socks or slippers, or even use a warming pad if your extremities are chronically cold. A Swiss study discovered that warm hands and feet were directly linked to rapid sleep.
9 . Wear loose, light pyjamas
Even in winter, you don’t want your body to feel confined or overheated. Sleeping without PJs is an option as well, if you’re more comfortable that way.
10. Think of your favourite place or imagine a beautiful natural scene
Counting sheep is obsolete; instead, push out lingering thoughts or worries by picturing a waterfall, beach, or somewhere you love.
Ultimately, the biggest factor here is discipline. If you can’t put down the smartphone, turn down the heat, or set a routine, you’ll continue having a hard time. But if you can, you’ll find that the reward is more than worth it!
By T. Cho,
Christ & Co.