Here you are. Laying in bed WIDE AWAKE after telling yourself for the third time in a row, “I will not pick my phone back up, I need to go to sleep!” “omg. I have work in 5…4…3…2…hours”. I’ve been there too. So many times in fact, it’s hard to count, but unlike the sheep whom aren’t losing any sleep, we can’t seem to just lay down and let go of our daily lives long enough to fall into dream land. I am here to give you a few pointers that have helped me to get to sleep faster and wake up feeling much more rested.
1. CALM YOUR MIND
“CaLm yOuR mINd, thanks didn’t think about that while lying awake at 1am, only been trying to for 4 hours.” I know you’re thinking it and that’s okay, I welcome it and I appreciate you.
We all know that a lot happens in a day. Sometimes it goes by so quickly that our heads are still spinning while trying to process what we’ve seen and experienced throughout our day. We over think, we over process, we let our minds get the absolute best of us. I feel that most of the time, this is what keeps us from a good nights sleep. Taking about an hour or more before bed to decompress and allow yourself to process helps significantly!
I’m talking about a full on ease your mind session. No cell phone, no computer, maybe tv or music on in the background for some noise. I try to cozy up on my couch, or at my dining table and either write down all of the key points of my day to ease my mind, or just talk about them to my significant other. We have what’s called a five minute b**ch session, which is where you have five minutes to get all the negative points of the work day spewed out and out of the way. That way, all those little key points from my day are expressed so I can respectfully let them go to fully relax.
I understand how cliche this sounds, but another great way to ease your mind is to meditate. Think about all of the good and the bad, then let it go. Focus on your breathing and when you go back to one thing over and over, tell yourself it is okay and move past onto better thoughts. Learn to let it go. You will fall asleep in no time if you stay focused on your breathing and keep letting go of each negative thought. The biggest issue with negative thoughts is, AS MUCH AS YOUR BRAIN WANTS TO, it cannot change the outcome! Bad things happen throughout the day, embrace them, then move on while looking forward to the next day.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
When your body needs something, believe me, it will tell you. I once stayed up on a painting binger in art school for three days. My body proceeded to say, “NOPE” and I passed out cold…while showering for my day, awkwarddd to say the least. Spent and entire day in the hospital for them to tell me I was fine, I just needed sleep! The thing about your body is, if it needs something, it will get it whether you like it or not! So maybe try to cooperate.
Sometimes, even though we are dozing off on the couch, we make ourselves wake up and try to stay up longer. All you’re doing is waking yourself back up and making it harder to go to sleep once you feel you’re “ready”.
3. TRY NOT TO EAT FOR A LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE BED
Midnight snacks are more than tempting, most of us are guilty of not being able to say, “no, put that bag of Cheetos down”! The biggest issue with this, is that food = energy. Although every single one of us knows this, we can’t seem to comprehend that our eating habits directly affect our sleeping patterns. If we intake calories before bed, we are more likely to give ourselves more energy and be unable to fall asleep!
The same could be said for drinks before bed. Try to avoid sugary drinks or those containing caffeine. I try to stay away from ANY drink before bed, so I can sleep peacefully throughout the night without shooting up out of bed at 3am and sprinting to the bathroom.
4. PUT YOURSELF ON A SCHEDULE
“NO MOM, I’M NOT TIRED YET!” We’ve all said it, but a mother’s will and ability to make you get your butt ready and into bed at 8pm every single night, is much stronger than your will to stay awake. As you get older, you learn to stick to a routine, you wake up at a certain time for work, you hold yourself accountable for being on time. Why shouldn’t you hold yourself accountable for getting into bed at the same time as well?
As lame as it sounds(trust me, I know) you should practice setting a bed time for yourself. It will make your body adapt and become accustomed to going to bed the same time every night. Just as it becomes accustomed to waking up the same time every morning. Yes, some nights you will stay up late or even go to bed early, but to try and stick to a schedule is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to you. If your body won’t tell you when to sleep, sometimes you have to tell it.
5. TRY TO WORK OUT OFTEN
Since beginning my fitness journey, I’ve noticed that I am sleeping more deeply and more soundly than I have in the past year. No longer do I toss and turn every single night, wide awake for hours. I come home from the gym, EVEN AFTER taking a pre workout before hand and I’m ready to shower and go to sleep.
Sometimes the issue here is that you have, like myself, a very active mind and you need to tire your body enough so that your mind can’t compete. If you don’t like to go to the gym, you can always take a walk or a run or even do a home workout for at least 30 minutes. I didn’t think that it would help me, but I wake less throughout the night and wake up feeling much more refreshed.
6. CONSIDER A CHANGE IN DIET
Some studies have shown that poor diet can be linked to insomnia and other sleep issues. If you truly aren’t sleeping soundly and you have tried all of the above, I recommend to consider a change in diet. Obviously I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I cannot by any means tell you how to live your life or give you a program to follow. I can, though, tell you in my personal experience it has changed my life dramatically. In MANY aspects.
If you tend to eat a lot of simple carbs and sugars, it will take a toll on your body. It can make you feel strange or foggy and it will sometimes make your mind race. Some thing as simple as cutting out a few sugars here and there or adding in a couple different vegetables or fruits and grains may potentially help you! I have found in my experiences that limiting my carbs and starches for a few hours before bed time and substitution with fibrous foods, vegetables and nutritious greens with dinner, I have been sleeping much easier. It’s worth a shot!
7. IF ALL ELSE FAILS…
Congratulations, you have reached the final level, simultaneously exhausted and completely wide awake. Just in case you didn’t think it was possible, here it is! If you have tried everything and I mean everything on this list plus 1000 jumping jacks, you might want to talk to your doctor about other options. They may simply tell you to drink some warm tea or take melatonin supplements, but that is up to them to decide.
I don’t recommend that you take matters into your own hands when it comes to supplements of any kind, without first consulting with your doctor and making sure it is okay to do so! If you’re in the clear to take them, I recommend trying supplements with melatonin or valerian root to help you go to sleep and stay alseep throughout the night.
In hope this article has been at least somewhat helpful to at least one of you! If you have any other suggestions for people, drop them in the comments below!
Thank you for reading!