Can't Sleep? Here Are 7 Things You Can Do To Drift Off
Sleep is crucial for optimal health and well-being. Listing off the detriments of sleep deficiency – e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke – is enough to make you, well, lose sleep!
But with proper setup and prep, you can ensure restful sleep. Ready to get some rest? Read on for tips to implement in your sleep routine, courtesy of Zencare, a website that helps people find their ideal talk therapist.
1) Try deep-breathing techniques
Some individuals find relief from restless nights through breathing exercises, such as square breathing.
Square breathing – so called because many people envision a square while practicing it – can connect you with your body, and allow get you in touch with your circadian rhythm. It can also calm your nervous system and lower your stress levels. Because of these things, it can be an effective tool in helping you fall asleep when you are struggling to do so.
Here’s how to practice square breathing:
- Begin sitting on a chair, with both of your feet on the floor
- Slowly exhale all the air out through your mouth
- Then, gently inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4
- Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4
- Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4
- At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold for the count of 4
Repeat as necessary while your body eases into relaxation.
2) Avoid looking at screens with blue-lights, like phones, computers, and TVs
Whenever possible, avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed – since such lights can detrimentally affect rest, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Speaking of lights, your bedroom should, ideally, be very dark for the best quality of sleep. If there are distracting lights coming in through the window that are out of your control (e.g., your neighbors), don a sleep mask or close the curtains to ensure your sleep haven is set.
3) Lower the room temperature
As you fall asleep, your body’s core temperature decreases, and the temperature of your hands and feet increases.
In other words, if your room is too warm, you could have a difficult time falling asleep. Studies suggest between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit makes for an ideal sleep environment.
4) Suds up to rest up
Bath aficionados will be pleased to learn that having a warm bath can help with sleep, too. (20-minute showers are also recommended.)
Take a hot bath or shower 1.5 hours before going to bed, so your body temperature has time to cool off to ideal sleep levels.
5) If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed
It might sound counterintuitive, but if you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, try getting out of bed – and doing a relaxing activity instead. Once your mind is no longer focused on sleeping, your body can relax and gear up for sleep again.
Try the following:
- Make a cup of tea
- Read an uplifting, relaxing book (likely hardcopy, so as to avoid bluelight)
- Practice this quick mindfulness exercise, and repeat as necessary:
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes
- Keep both feet on the ground and your hands in your lap
- Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Focus on the breath and the cold air coming in
- Breathe out through your mouth for six seconds. Focus on the warm air going out
Tempting as it is, avoid looking at screens or clocks, which can spur anxiety and/or wake you up further!
6) Feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed? Jot down your worries
Stress and anxiety can contribute to poor sleep. If it seems like a million little stressors are swirling around your head, get them out of there – and onto a piece of paper!
Having them at the ready so you don’t forget them – but they’re not looming over you as you sleep – can help you rest easy, knowing you’ll get them taken care of in the morning.
7) If restless nights are becoming a regular occurrence, consider seeing an insomnia therapist
It’s estimated that around 30% of adults experience symptoms of insomnia. If you commonly have significant trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, consider seeking mental health treatment from a therapist who can help you reduce your anxieties about sleep, and integrate proven coping techniques.
Whenever possible, seek a therapist who is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, aka CBT-I! This approach is an evidence-based remedy for curing sleep disorders, and can help alleviate sleep challenges in as few as a few sessions.
CBT-I treatment has three major steps:
- Screening for medical issues and assessing sleep by a qualified provider
- Targeting issues and methods (such as the tips above) to treat the insomnia particular to your case
- Gradually employing techniques to correct sleep problems
You can find a therapist for insomnia using a therapist directory like Zencare.
The next time you can’t conk out, don’t let tossing and turning consume you! Try one or two of the above suggestions for a sweet departure into dreamland. And if sleep issues are becoming a chronic concern, consider seeking a therapist for insomnia who can help you identify sleep stressors and learn doable, daily tips to tackle them.
This is a guest post from Zencare, a website that helps people find their ideal talk therapist. Visit Zencare.co to browse their vetted network of top therapists – using criteria like insurance, sliding scale, location, and specialties. You can also directly book a free assessment call from the Zencare site!