If you lie awake in bed at night staring at the ceiling, chances are you’re feeling pretty frustrated. Insomnia can be a pain, making it tough to get through the day when you’re running on little to no sleep. And you’re not alone. The CDC estimates that about 20% of Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems.
But the good news is that there are some things you can do to help yourself fall asleep. From making sure you’re equipped with must-have bedroom essentials to avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, several simple strategies can make a big difference. Here are some of the most common reasons people can’t sleep, along with some tips on how to fix them.
1. You’re Anxious or Stressed About Something
It can be tough to fall asleep if you’re worried and experiencing anxiety about something. Your mind is racing, and you can’t seem to turn off the thoughts that keep you awake. One of the best things you can do is to try to find a way to deal with whatever is causing your anxiety or stress. If it’s something that can be solved, like a problem at work, try to devise a plan to fix it. If it’s something that’s out of your control, like a family member who is ill, try to find a way to let go of some of the worries.
Meditation, journaling or even just talking to a friend can help. One of our favorites is a brain dump, where you write down everything on your mind until you feel like you’ve emptied your brain. This can help you feel more in control, leading to better sleep. Also, when done right before bed, it can help your mind to feel more at ease so you can fall asleep.
2. You Had Caffeine Late in the Day
Coffee is a staple of most people’s morning routine. The smell, the taste and the little kick of energy it provides can be hard to resist. But having a cup of coffee too late in the day can make it tough to fall asleep at night. Caffeine has a half-life of about five hours, which means that after five hours, half of the caffeine is still in your system. So if you drink coffee around dinner time at 6 p.m., there will still be half of the caffeine in your system when you lie down to sleep at 11 p.m.
If you have trouble sleeping, it’s best to cut back on the caffeine or switch to decaf after lunchtime. And if you need that afternoon pick-me-up, try having a cup of green tea instead. It has less caffeine than coffee and is also loaded with antioxidants. Also, be conscious of caffeine in energy drinks, sodas and even some dark chocolate. All these can affect your sleep, so it’s best to limit them if you’re trying to get a good night’s rest.
3. You’re Not Getting Enough Exercise
Exercise is excellent for your physical health and can also be great for your sleep. People who exercise regularly sleep better and feel more rested than those who don’t. So mix up your routines to include cardio and strength-training exercises, and try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
But it’s important to note that you shouldn’t exercise too close to bedtime. The adrenaline that comes with working out can make it hard to fall asleep. So it’s best to exercise early in the day or at least a few hours before you go to bed.
4. You’re Not Sleeping in a Comfortable Environment
Your sleeping environment can make a big difference in how well you sleep. For example, you might not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep if your bed is uncomfortable or your room is too hot or cold. To create a comfortable environment for sleep, start with your bed. Then, shop around and look at mattresses that offer the right mix of comfort and support.
If you have aches and pains that result in hip or spine issues, you may want to consider adjustable beds. They allow you to adjust the position of your head and feet so you can find a comfortable position for sleep. And last, find sheets and blankets that are soft and cozy. Higher thread counts are usually more comfortable, but you may also want to look for sheets made of natural fibers like cotton.
As for the temperature, most people sleep best in a cool room, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. But everyone is unique, so experiment until you find the perfect temperature for you. And if you can’t seem to get your room to stay cool enough, try using a fan. The white noise it generates can also help you to fall asleep.
5. You’re Staying Up Too Late to Watch TV or Scroll Through Social Media
People have always been told to avoid watching TV or looking at screens before bed because it can lead to sleepless nights. And while that used to mean just turning off the television set in the living room, nowadays it means putting down the phone, tablet or laptop and resisting the urge to scroll through social media before bed. There are a couple of reasons why this kind of behavior can make it hard to fall asleep.
First, the blue light that comes from screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. So, if you’re looking at screens right before bed, your brain isn’t getting the signal that it’s time to shut down for the night, making it difficult to fall asleep.
The second reason is that watching TV, scrolling social media or even reading news sites before bed can stimulate your brain and make it harder to relax. So if you’re trying to wind down for the night, it’s best to avoid anything that might cause you stress or keep you overthinking right before bed.
The best solution is to put away all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime and find something else relaxing to do instead. Whether reading a book, taking a bath or meditating, give yourself time to unwind without screens before trying to fall asleep.
Good Luck and Good Night!
It can be hard to fall asleep sometimes, but following these tips will help create a more comfortable and relaxing sleeping environment. With a bit of effort, you’ll be able to establish good sleep habits that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated each day. So don’t give up if you’re struggling with sleepless nights — try implementing some of these tips and see how they work for you. We hope you have a restful night!