Insomnia is actually the worst! One in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While lots of us could use a few more Zzzs, sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Stressful days combined with busy evenings mean you could be left frazzled but totally unable to switch off. We’ve all been there and sometimes it takes a range of strategies in order to conquer dreaded insomnia once and for all.
Check out this list of 18 tips for good ‘sleep hygiene’ to help you nod off peacefully – and stay asleep the whole night through!
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- Only get into bed when you are ready to go to sleep
You have to start thinking of your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary. Don’t lay awake for hours watching Netflix, you want to start associating your bedroom primarily with sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot
I don’t usually have any heating on in my bedroom at all – the colder the temperature, the better I sleep – and it saves on heating bills too!
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- Limit screen time before bed
This is a tough one, but it’s one of the most important. An hour before you want to go to sleep, set your mobile device somewhere to charge and DON’T pick it up again before the morning. As tempting as it is, if you wake up in the night, never scroll aimlessly through your phone, it’ll only wake you up even more.
- Use earplugs and an eye mask so you’re less likely to wake up in the night
I’m a really light sleeper – if a pin drops, it’ll wake me up! – That’s why I started using eye masks and earplugs at night when I went backpacking: I was sleeping in dorms at the time, with people coming and going at different times through the night, which made it super difficult to get a good night’s rest.
The earplugs and eye mask I used were so effective and blocking out light and noise that I started using them when I got home too. Now I’d find it hard to sleep without them. The eye mask is especially good if you have curtains that don’t block out the light well and I’d recommend the earplugs for anyone with noise to deal with.
Since using them so regularly, as you can imagine, I’m now a major eye mask and earplug aficionado, so have some great recommendations for you! For earplugs, I like this type which are foamy so fit comfortably but still block out the sound.
3M Foam Ear Plugs
For eye masks, I like this ‘3D’ kind, which still allows your eyes to open if you need to.
Unimi Sleep Mask for Woman
Oh and to answer a common question: no, I never sleep through my alarm or any other sounds when I use the earplugs. They mask most sounds, (that your brain already knows it should ignore), such as cars driving by, enough so that you stay asleep, but you’ll find that when a sound that you subconsciously know you should get up for, like an alarm is happening, you tend to wake up anyway.
- Listen to relaxing sounds or white noise
Listening to some sounds from nature can be great at getting you in the mood for sleep. You can find lots of apps for this, but as I don’t keep a phone in the bedroom, I use a sleep sounds skill on my Echo dot. I love listening to rain and thunderstorms but you can find just about anything.
- Keep your bedroom tidy and uncluttered
Make it a resolution to keep your bedroom as tidy as possible from now on so that it’s a calming space. Check out this post on the best reads if you’re in need of some help with decluttering!
RELATED: 5 Essential Reads That Will Help You Declutter
- Try some breathing exercises
One of the simplest breathing exercises involves breathing in till a count of 7, and then out to a count of 11. The longer out-breath calms your body as it mimics the way we naturally breathe when we relax.
Another well-known sleep-friendly breathing technique is this one from Dr. Andrew Weil: “Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.” Then follow these five-steps in turn:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
- Hold your breath for a count of seven
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight (This is one breath.)
- Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
The most crucial part of this process is holding your breath. It lets oxygen fill your lungs and circulate through the body, which creates feelings of relaxation.
Something else to try in combination with breathing exercises is to visualize yourself soundly asleep. Get into a comfortable position and picture in your mind how peaceful and restful you would look, then try to imagine how relaxed your whole body would feel and try to hold that picture in your mind, making it as vivid and real as possible.
Try to make sure your bedding is a help and not a hindrance in your quest for sleep and buy the best you can afford. It doesn’t have to be fancy designer names but look at the materials used: sleeping in pure linen sheets is great, but any natural fibers will be good for you: the lightest, and coolest fabrics you can get.
- Layout what you need for tomorrow
Try to get anything you can ready for the following day so you aren’t laying awake worrying what you need to do and make this part of your ‘go to bed’ ritual.
- Get a bedside notebook
Keep a notebook next to your bed and take a minute to write anything down that’s on your mind so you can get it out of your head before you go to sleep. This also works if you wake up in the middle of the night with something bothering you.
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