- Drink Some Chamomile Tea
A soothing cup of tea may be all you need to make it easier to drift into dreamland. In fact, research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reveals that 10 out of 12 patients given chamomile tea before bed fell asleep quickly and slept deeply after drinking their beverage. And for more ways to sip your way to better health, discover these 40 Drinks That Fight Fat!
Adding in some stretching to your daily routine can help you fall asleep more easily in no time. Not only does stretching give you a little bit of a workout, it can also help you fend off any aches and pains that would otherwise have you tossing and turning. And for more ways to stretch and shed those unwanted pounds at once, discover these 25 Yoga Poses That Can Help You Lose Belly Fat.
- Get In a Workout
Regular exercise can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Department of Neurology have discovered that sedentary individuals with insomnia who added some exercise to their routine reported improved sleep, so don't be afraid to hit the gym when you need to catch up a few Zs.
- Get Some Sunlight
Whether you’re stuck behind a desk or at your house, if you’re staying inside all day, that could be the reason you’re having such a hard time falling asleep. Research presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ annual meeting in 2013 reveals that individuals who had regular access to natural light during the day slept nearly an hour more each night and were more likely to exercise regularly than their dark-dwelling counterparts. Experts suggest this may be related to sunlight’s role in setting our circadian rhythms or its positive effect on mental health.
- Take Work Out of the Bedroom
Our busy schedules may make it difficult to completely turn off after the workday’s over, but our health may depend on it. Not only can the blue light from screens make it harder to go to sleep, good sleep hygiene practices dictate that your sleep space be reserved for its main purpose: sleep. If your bed’s pulling double duty as a sleep space and office, you may be in a heightened state of mental activity when you’re trying to hit the hay.
- Add Some White Noise
The world is an interesting place—and a loud one. Trying to go to sleep when there are so many distractions, from cars passing by to crickets chirping, can be almost impossible for some of us. Fortunately, adding a white noise machine or a simple fan to your room can make a major difference in how easily you fall asleep and how well you sleep through the night. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences, patients in a coronary care unit with white noise in their room enjoyed improvements in their sleep quality and duration.
- Skip the Nap
While persistent fatigue may make it difficult to make it through the day without a nap, that little bit of shut-eye you’re getting during daylight hours could be what’s causing you to sleep poorly in the first place. Napping during the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night and may even reset your body’s internal clock, pushing your bedtime later and later. Whenever possible and safe to do, skip the nap and save that tiredness for bedtime.
Our hectic schedules often make it difficult to find time to totally zone out, and many of our leisure activities, like watching TV and reading on our phones, can actually make our sleeplessness worse. Try combating the effects of your frenetic daily routine by adding some meditation to your schedule; research published in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals that, over a year-long period, adults with sleep issues who added meditation to their routine slept better than those who simply did sleep-related education and exercise.
- Cut Down on Caffeine
That morning cup of joe may get you going, but those additional cups throughout the day may keep you going longer than you’d hoped. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try cutting out caffeine after 12 PM—that means no coffee, no energy drinks, and no chocolate after mid-day—you might just find that it’s easier to hit the hay when you’re ready. And get sleepier by bedtime by enjoying these 40 Workouts You Can Do Without a Gym!
- Put the Pets to Bed First
Pets can be as important a part of our lives as your human family members, but they can also be a major distraction at bedtime. Before you head off to the land of nod, put your pets to sleep in a separate room, or at least in a separate sleeping space, whenever possible. Doggy and kitty cuddles may be cute, but sleeping beside a frantic beast who’s trying to get some treats at four in the morning isn’t good for anyone.
- Manage Your Medication Schedule
If you’re having a hard time discovering the source of your sleeplessness, it might be time to re-evaluate your medication schedule. Certain prescriptions, from antidepressants to ADHD medication, can have a profound effect on our sleep habits, so if you can’t doze off when you want to, talk to your doctor and see if it’s okay to take your pills earlier in the day. Make sure you’re also careful with OTC medications; many headache and cold medications contain caffeine or other energy-boosting ingredients that can interfere with proper sleep.
- Shut Off the TV
TV may feel like a relaxing diversion while you’re watching it, but it could also be the reason behind those sleepless nights. Research conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reveals that watching TV before bedtime can make us stay up later, as well as stimulating our brains in a way that makes it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. And when you want to make every morning a healthier one, discover these 14 Ways to Wake Up With Zero Belly!
- Talk It Out
If you’re stressed out at the end of the day, you might just find that sleep is no longer the relaxing sanctuary you once found it to be. Research published by the American Psychological Association indicates there’s a nasty cycle between sleeplessness and stress—stressed out individuals have a harder time going to sleep and consequently feel more stressed because of their lack of sleep, leading to increased irritability and a marked drop in productivity. Fortunately, talking to your loved ones or a therapist on a regular basis can help you release some of those feelings of tension and get your sleep schedule back on track in no time.
- Quit Smoking
Cigarettes may feel like they help reduce your stress level in the moment, but puffing away could be the source of your sleepless nights. Nicotine is a stimulant, meaning it can make sleep harder to come by, and research conducted at Freiburg University Medical Center reveals that smokers are more likely to have a hard time falling asleep and experience shorter sleep durations than their non-smoking counterparts.
- Read a Book
Instead of checking out your favorite show or website before bed, try reading a few chapters of a book. The minor visual strain associated with reading can make your eyes tired and the lack of bright lights and loud sounds can make it easier for your brain to shut off, unlike TV, which stimulates it.
- Take a Hot Bath
Kill two birds with one stone by taking a hot bath before bed. Not only does a bath give you an opportunity to clean off before you get into bed, baths can reduce your stress level and give you some time alone with your thoughts, making it easier to drift off in bed when you’re ready.
- Change Your Sheets
There are few things more pleasurable than snuggling up against your soft sheets and going to sleep. However, if your sheets are full of crumbs, hair, pets, dirt, or are heavily pilled, the unusual sensation those unwanted additions to your bed can make it difficult to fall asleep. Changing your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week can have major benefits for your sleep habits and the lack of dirt and grime pressing up against you can even help reduce your risk of breakouts or skin irritation.
- Give Yourself a No-Work Period
It may be hard to decide that work stays at work, but doing so can make a major difference in your sleep habits. If you’re constantly waiting for an email or call from your boss, or if you take work into your bed with you, you’re unconsciously setting up associations between sleep and stress, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Giving yourself a few hours of work-free time before bed can make it easier to decompress and hit they hay when you’re ready. And for more reasons to ditch the 24-hour work schedule, discover these 20 Ways Stress Is Ruining Your Health.
- Have Sex
While hitting the hay after a trip to the gym may be difficult, enjoying some in-bed exercise can help you burn calories and fall asleep easier. Sex can help you release stress, a major contributor to sleeplessness, while boosting your body’s prolactin production, which can make you feel ready to nod off. In fact, researchers at the Appleton Institute for Behavioral Science at Central Queensland University, the majority of study subjects who had sex and an orgasm before they went to bed slept better.
- Cut Out the Nightcap
Enjoying a drink at the end of the evening may make you feel sleepy, but that effect is short-lived. According to researchers at Michigan's Wayne State University, alcohol can interfere with REM sleep, making you more likely to wake up throughout the night. If you do decide to drink in the evening, make sure you have your last one a few hours before you hit they hay and drink plenty of water, so that the alcohol’s dehydrating effects don’t wake you up throughout the night.
- Lighten Up Your Evening Meal
You might feel ready to fall asleep after a large meal, but eating heavily before bed won’t actually help you sleep any better. A full belly and churning intestines can make it more difficult to fall asleep, and some individuals report having more nightmares and sleep disturbances when they eat before bed. Give yourself a few hours to digest your food before you hit the hay and make sure the last meal of the day isn’t your biggest. And cut out those nighttime hunger pangs and sleep better by enjoying the 20 Healthiest High-Fat Foods!
- Put Your Phone Away
Our phones have virtually become parts of our body at this point, but those digital appendages are destroying our sleep habits. From the sleep-disturbing blue light they emit to the endless number of diversions on them, our phones can trigger a cycle of sleeplessness that’s hard to break. Get into a healthier sleep routine by turning your phone off, or at least putting it out of reach before bed, and giving yourself at least an hour of digital-free time before you try to go to sleep.
- Get Out of Bed
If you’re having a hard time getting to sleep, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning for hours. Doing so can increase your stress level and make it harder for you (and anyone who shares your bed) to get adequate sleep. Instead, go into another room and read, meditate, or just walk around for a bit until you feel ready to give sleep another shot.
- Stick to the Same Routine
Sticking to the same sleep routine night after night can yield amazing results. At the same time each night, brush your teeth, get into your pajamas, read a bit, and turn out the light; in just a few weeks’ time, this routine will have a Pavlovian effect on your body, making you sleepy through conditioning.
- Turn Off the Lights
Night lights, glowing phones, and even your computer charger can make your room practically bright enough to read a book in, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Luckily, eliminating some of that unnecessary light by turning your phone over and putting stickers over the glowing components of your electronics can make your room dark and sleep-friendly in no time.
- Turn Off the Lights
Night lights, glowing phones, and even your computer charger can make your room practically bright enough to read a book in, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Luckily, eliminating some of that unnecessary light by turning your phone over and putting stickers over the glowing components of your electronics can keep your room dark and sleep-friendly.