Sleep does a body good, but for so many of us it seems impossible to actually get a good night’s sleep. It is not that we do not want to sleep, but it is more that some of us simply cannot sleep. It becomes the unreachable dream. You find yourself jealous of people you see sleeping on television and in commercials. You become jealous of your child’s nap-time. You yawn through the day, chugging down cup after cup of coffee. So how do you solve it? What are the ways to sleep better?
Try to avoid the pills
Many of us pop a couple Tylenol PM or Benadryl about an hour before going to bed in hopes that the medicine will be just enough to knock us out for the night. That solution may work for a few nights, but it is not something to rely on forever. For one thing, while taking medication gets the job done and is beneficial for some, if a doctor is not prescribing a medication for you, medicating yourself can get dangerous. If you find yourself repeatedly taking over-the-counter medication to get sleep, it may be part of a bigger problem. Go to your doctor. He or she may also tell you that the more you take these medications the less effective they become. Your body will adjust and simply become used to the medicine, and you may find that eventually you are still tossing and turning despite taking medication.
Put away the technology
Put down the Smartphone. I repeat, put down the Smartphone and step away. Our society has quickly become addicted to new technology and is constantly connected to the “screen,” whether it is a phone, iPad, or computer. Think about it. How late do you find yourself on Facebook before heading to bed? Medical research has suggested that not taking a break from technology before your head hits the pillow can keep you physically “wired.” You need that time to just unwind and relax, and playing Words with Friends is not the answer. Try shutting down your devices at least an hour before you go to bed. A Kindle does not really fall into that group, as many people use Kindles solely to read books. If you choose to read from your Kindle before bed, hold back that urge to use the wireless to get on the Internet. Read.
Take a look. It’s in a book.
Books can do amazing things. Reading not only benefits you intellectually, it also is an excellent way to end your day. It beats watching television any day. So many people use reading as a way to calm down and just unwind before falling asleep, and many of us even fall asleep while reading. Get yourself cozy in bed, with a soft pillow and glass of warm milk and escape in your book. Of course, this does backfire for those who find themselves up all night finishing the book because we want so desperately to know if Harry defeats Lord Voldemort. So this method is not for everyone. If you want a book that will actually put you to sleep, pick the most boring and dry book you can find. Pick a textbook or read from the Dictionary. You will be sleeping peacefully in no time, and you may even learn a new word or two.
Lay your worries down
Life is stressful. Those stresses do not go away simply because you lay your head down on the pillow. Often, stress is the key reason why people struggle to fall or stay asleep. Turning off your mind is tricky and pretty much impossible for most. The thing is, though, those worries and problems will still be there in the morning. You will not solve all of your problems, along with peace in the Middle East by laying there staring at the ceiling. All that you will end up with are tired, baggy eyes and a grumpy mood the next day. Unless you have a newborn, you have no reason to be so sleep deprived. Keep a “worry journal” next to your bed. If you are stressing out over one thing or multiple things, then write them down and close the book. They will be there as soon as you wake up. The key is, once you write them down, you leave them in the book and off of your mind. This often requires training and is not easy by any means. However, you may find that some of those problems that were such a big deal the night before are not such a big deal the next day. Also, getting a good night’s sleep helps you start the day ready to conquer those problems and maybe even solve the problems in the Middle East.
The power of hot water
Not everyone showers in the evening instead of the morning, but taking a warm shower or bath before you hit the sack may be just the answer to relax you enough to fall asleep. A bath with some soft music, candles and dim lighting is enough to relax even the tensest person out there. A long, warm shower can have the same effect. The key is to let your mind and body relax and to not sit there stewing over your problems. If you find yourself doing that, whip out the worry journal, jot them down and then close your eyes and go to your happy place. For the adventurous, try adding a little aroma therapy to your bath. Most of us have heard of those lavender body lotions and bath soap for young children that are supposed to help them go to sleep. Well, there is absolutely no reason that they could not work on adults! Pour a little lavender bubble bath or use some lavender body wash and lotion. Even if it does not work, you will smell great. For those who share a bed with another person, they may just appreciate it.
Drown out the noise
Many people have discovered the beauty of noise or sound machines as an excellent method to help you fall asleep. These machines are often used for babies who have been shown to fall asleep easier with white noise in the background. Why not try it out for yourself? Noise machines are not just white noise either. You can have your choice of noises from ocean waves, babbling brooks, thunderstorm and even heartbeat. The latter one is meant more for babies and can be a little creepy, but hey, if it puts you to sleep then go for it. Be careful to not drink too much before bed if you choose the babbling brook sound option. If you cannot afford an actual noise machine and you still would like to try this technique out, simply turn your radio to A.M. Just like that, you have white noise!
Let’s get physical
Are you doing any exercise or physical activity? Well, you should be! Doing some form of physical exercise is proven to help you fall asleep easier. Try getting up early in the morning for a nice morning jog or aerobics class. Not only will being up earlier in the morning make you more tired by night but you will also have worked out your body to where it may just want to relax by the time bedtime hits. Plus, you get the benefits of healthy exercise for a healthy body. It’s a win-win.
Say no to the caffeine
Sure, when you were young you could down about three Mountain Dews during the day and still sleep like a baby. Well, you are not young anymore. Sorry to be harsh, but it is true. As you age, caffeine affects you more than it did when you were younger, and by affect I do not mean it in the positive way. If you are experiencing chronic insomnia and you are still drinking coffee by the end of the work day, you should probably consider cutting back to decaf or just cutting it out altogether after lunch. Sure, it may be hard, but you have to come to that realization that you are not who you were when you were younger. Did you make fun of your parents for saying no to Coke after 10:00 a.m.? Well, they did it for a reason, and now it is happening to you. So turn down that cup of Joe and go take a brisk walk to get your energy up during the middle of the day. Who knows? If you get a good night’s sleep you may have enough energy during the day that you do not need that caffeine anymore.
Take some of these tips and try them out yourself. They may not all be for you, but if you find one or two that help you get that good night’s sleep that you so desperately need, it will be worth it. So what are you doing still reading this? Go to bed! Put down the computer and get some sleep! Good night!