Is there anything worse than insomnia? For those who have experienced insomnia — and the overwhelming feelings of panic and despair that often accompany it — the answer is likely a resounding No!
For most people insomnia is prompted by learned behaviors. Whether you’re taking late naps, scrolling social media right before bed, or downing a large cup of caffeine with dinner, it’s likely that your insomnia is the result of a bad habit. Fortunately, bad habits can be broken, so we’ve listed 15 easy sleep fixes for those struggling with insomnia.
Get on a schedule
As previously mentioned, insomnia is often the result of bad habits. Form the right habits right off the bat by consistently following a before-bed routine. This easy routine could include things like taking a warm bath or spending a few minutes reading, but should not include things like work or anything that includes screen time. You should begin your routine about one hour before you want to fall asleep.
Along the same lines, try to make your bed time and wake up time consistent each day. If your body expects to fall asleep at 10 P.M., for example, it will automatically begin to feel tired when you need it to.
Spend time preparing for the next day.
Many people have trouble falling asleep because of anxiety and other stresses. If you feel this could be one of the things keeping you from falling asleep, take some time each evening to prepare for the next day. Lay out your clothing, pack your lunch, make a quick checklist of all you want to accomplish, then go to bed with less to worry about.
Cool the room to 65 degrees.
According to various studies, a room that is 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit makes for the perfect environment for sleeping. By sleeping in a cool bedroom, people struggling with insomnia can help their body temperature decrease, as it naturally does when it’s ready to fall asleep.
Rid your room of all lights.
Your brain requires certain chemicals to sleep well, and those chemicals decline when there is even the tiniest amount of light in the room. To keep light from interfering with your sleep, switch out your digital alarm clock or throw a heavy cloth over it, invest in some blackout curtains or wear a eye shades to bed, and consider painting your bedroom walls a soothing dark color. The darker your bedroom, the better you will sleep.
Make sure your sleeping environment is totally quiet.
Sleep experts agree that silence is the ideal environment in which to fall asleep. In fact, even the slightest sound made 10-15 minutes before falling asleep can keep you awake and disturb your sleep. Keep minor distracting sounds at bay with ear plugs, a fan or humidifier, or even a white noise machine. For louder sounds, such as a snoring partner, it may be necessary to move to the guest room.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and replace pillows frequently.
Both mattresses and pillows become less and less supportive over time and should be replaced relatively frequently (approximately 9 years for mattresses and six months to two years for pillows, depending upon quality). An unsupportive mattress will not only keep you awake, but take its toll on your comfort, while a pillow that has collected dander and other allergens will certainly do the opposite of lulling you into a peaceful slumber.
Leave your phone on the other side of the room.
Or better yet, leave your phone in another room entirely. A 2014 study done by Ofcom found that a whopping 80% of people sleep with their phone near their body — not a good idea. Besides being a huge distraction, mobile phones emit a blue light that has a stimulating effect on the brain similar to sunshine.
Avoid taking a nap.
Of all of the easy sleep fixes on this list, this one may just be the most difficult. It can be tough to resist the temptation of a nap, but if you struggle with insomnia, resisting could be the key to a good night’s sleep.
Fall asleep to some Mozart.
Studies suggest that soft music playing at bedtime will both help you to fall asleep and improve your sleep quality. But not just any type of music is helpful. These same studies show that it’s classical music — and especially artists like Mozart, Handel, Brahms, Bach, and Strauss — that slow down brainwaves and help you sleep.
Get rid of the clock.
For those who have trouble falling asleep, the presence of a clock slowly ticking away potential amounts of sleep can be a nightmare. If this is you, hide your alarm clock somewhere other than on your nightstand — somewhere you will be able to hear its alarm without seeing the time. By taking this seemingly extreme measure, you’ll help yourself break the habit of clock watching, thereby decreasing your overall anxiety about sleep.
Research some mind games and breathing exercises.
There are things you can do to help you lull your mind into sleep, so it might be worth spending a few minutes researching mind games and breathing exercises. For example, read up on the 4-7-8 breathing method, a simple exercise sleep experts claim will help you fall asleep in a minute or less. Alternatively, challenge yourself to a mind game such as thinking of sleep-related words or counting backwards from 200 by twos.
Wear warm socks.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, warming up your feet with fleece, wool, or cashmere socks can dilate your blood vessels and signal to the brain that it is time to go to sleep. The more dilated blood vessels in your hands and feet, the sooner you can expect to fall asleep.
If you wake up, stay up.
We know, it sounds like odd advice, but if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again for at least 20 minutes, just wake up. The point is to avoid allowing your mind to associate bed with being awake. Read a book or take a bath, then try to fall asleep again.
Eat a light dinner and avoid too many liquids before bed.
Trying to sleep on an overly full stomach is definitely not comfortable and is not likely to help you fall asleep any faster. Instead, eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime and keep it light. Furthermore, don’t drink any more liquids in the hour before bed to keep from having to wake up in the middle of the night.
Exercise a little bit each morning.
Countless studies have linked early morning exercise and sleep quality. Don’t worry, you don’t need to run a marathon every morning in order to feel sleepy at night, but some moderate aerobic activity can go a long way in improving the time it takes to fall asleep. Can’t exercise in the morning? That’s okay. Exercising any time, but not within the three hours before bed, can still help to fix insomnia.