I never considered myself someone who had trouble sleeping. Previously, I’d nod off just a few minutes after my head hit the pillow. Whether it be because of pandemic anxiety or just every day stress, however, things have changed over the last few months. If, like me, you find yourself staring into the darkness at night, trying to clear your chaotic mind and waiting for sleep to claim you, these bedtime tips might just come in handy. Try implementing one or all of them, and you’re sure to fall asleep faster.
1. Avoid bright lights
If you’ve struggled to fall asleep before, you may have come across this solution in previous desperate google searches. Indeed, it should be obvious to everyone by now that one of the best ways to get your body and mind prepped for sleep is to turn down bright lighting and avoid looking at bright screens.
Yes, I said avoid looking at screens.
This is because bright light, including that of your instagram feed, suppresses your body’s ability to produce melatonin – a hormone essential for sleep. Instead, try to surround yourself with warm, ambient lighting. This could include fairy lights, candles, and even warm lamps next to your bed. And who really needs an excuse to buy some cute fairy lights?
2. Don’t work in your bed
This should be another obvious one, but if your brain is used to using a certain space as a workspace, it’ll be constantly prepped to remain active and alert in that space. Alternatively, it could have the undesired effect of making your brain want to switch to sleep mode in the middle of your work day!
Either way, it’s best to have a designated space in which to work, and another in which to unwind and get a good night’s rest.
3. Get on that chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is known for its calming affects, and enjoying a cup as you settle down before bed time can be a great way to help your body prep for sleep.
You may also receive similar benefits from other caffeinated herbal teas. Plus, it’s just nice to climb under the covers with a good book and a nice warm cup of tea.
Another good adjustment to make to your routine is to stop drinking coffee earlier in the day, so the caffeine has more time to wear off before you get into bed. This could take as long as ten hours, so plan accordingly!
4. Try white noise.
If background sounds, like traffic or noisy neighbours are distracting you from falling asleep, you might find a white noise machine, or app, helpful. According to Elizabeth Enochs at Popsugar, “a recent study found that exposure to white noise reduced the amount of time it took for study participants to fall asleep by 38 percent”.
This could also help if you find that the area you’re in is too quiet ( a surprisingly common problem!).
Luckily for us all, several free white noise applications are available to be downloaded on your smartphone, so you don’t have to spend a cent to try it out!
If that’s not for you, get your hand on some earplugs, or find a machine that emits a gentle humming, such as a fan. Different strokes for different folks
5. Eat dinner earlier
If your metabolism is still fired up, it’s likely you could have trouble falling asleep. By shifting dinner time an hour earlier, you may give your body more time to digest it, and switch off before bed time – in turn allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Experts recommend you stop eating three hours before bed time. You may also want to ensure that you cut back on your alcohol intake with dinner, as this can be disruptive to sleep too.
6. Adopt habits for general well-being
The Mayo Clinic’s Stacy M. Peterson writes that a busy mind can be a hinderance when it comes to falling asleep. She recommends keeping a journal next to your bed in which to jot down all those thoughts that are keeping you up.
We’ve preached the benefits of journalling as a regular practice before, but in this case it really can be a great way to clear your mind of some of the clutter and allow it to relax.
Peterson adds that anxiety about sleep itself could be the problem. “If you’ve been in bed for what feels like it has been about 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy”.
Finally, ensuring that you’ve moved enough (that means exercise) during the day could make all the difference. See our lifestyle section for multiple home workouts you could try during your day to really tire you out.
Of course, we’ll all go through phases in which it’s harder, or easier to fall asleep. If we’re facing a particularly stressful time at work, it might be tougher – the irony is that this could be when you need quality sleep the most!
Try some of these techniques to help you fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep, so that even when things do get tougher, you’ll be well rested and ready to face them.