When you’re trying to get some shut-eye but can’t seem to calm your racing thoughts, your body may start tossing and turning.
If you take the appropriate steps, you should be able to drift off to sleep in a matter of minutes. A calm state of mind can help you drift off to sleep more easily. The relaxation response has been shown to be a physiological mechanism that has beneficial effects on the mind and body.
The relaxation response can help you fall asleep more easily by alleviating tension and worry. Insomnia and other sleep issues may be alleviated by using the tried-and-true relaxation techniques outlined in our detailed step-by-step guidelines.
It takes time and effort, but experts say it’s worth it in the end. Better yet, these techniques are adaptable, so you may fine-tune them to suit your needs.
Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep
It’s important to investigate the origin of your sleep problems if you’re having issues dozing off. Is it anything you can put your finger on, like how hot you are or how much your back hurts? Does it have anything to do with mental stimulation, such technology before bed, worry, or a major life change? Find out why you can’t sleep and what to do about it by reading this list of frequent causes and solutions.
Reason #1: It’s Too Hot
Sleeping in a cool room (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit) is preferable to sleeping in a warm environment (others could argue the opposite). Sleeping overheated can lead to issues like night sweats, which can prevent you from getting a restful night’s rest.
Reason #2: Blue Light Is Waking You Up
There’s a strong temptation to check your social media accounts right before bed, but did you realize that the blue light from your screen could be keeping you awake?
Reason #3: You Can’t Get Comfortable
Some nights you just can’t get comfortable enough to sleep, and you wind yourself tossing and turning for hours. If you’re having trouble relaxing, try getting out of bed and walking around for 10 to 15 minutes.
Reason #4. Stress or Anxiety Is Keeping You Up
Your mind may run at night if you experience stress or anxiety during the day. Too much mental activity during the day, anxiety, worry, disrupted sleep cycles, or racing thoughts can all contribute to sleeplessness in the evening.
Reason #5: You’re Having Nightmares
Fear of returning to sleep after a nightmare can interrupt your normal sleep cycle. Examining the significance of your nightmares can help you deal with whatever is causing it and move on to happier dreams.
Reason #6: You’ve Had a Big Life Change
Getting married, starting a new career, or relocating to a new place are all examples of major life changes that could keep you up at night. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, you might want to try establishing a regular nighttime ritual.
The Five Key Elements to Cultivating Relaxation
For thousands of years, the art of unwinding has been at the heart of religious and cultural rituals everywhere. This focus on relaxation has helped people find peace inside themselves and strengthen their bonds to their communities.
However, in the last several decades, scientific studies have focused on the relaxation effects of meditation, leading to the identification of critical factors for promoting the relaxation response.
- There is peace and quiet here. The absence of sound is not required for quiet. Listening to soothing music or sounds can help. Avoid using any kind of loud, jarring noises.
- A central point of interest. You can focus on something specific—a word, phrase, mantra, breathing rhythm, or mental image—to help you forget about the world outside.
- Indifference; a lack of activity. Knowing that this is a natural occurrence will put you at ease and make it easier to redirect your attention.
- Adequate ease of posture. It’s essential that you choose a comfy spot to unwind in. The bed is the natural place to lie down and unwind before nodding off.
- The mattress is quite comfortable. The key to a restful night’s sleep may lie in locating the mattress that is most conducive to your sleeping posture and body type.
The following are various approaches to achieve these central goals, all of which should help you drift off to sleep without incident. If you remember these foundations, you’ll have the tools to modify these approaches to your liking.
Falling Asleep With Relaxation Techniques
After getting into a relaxed position in bed, you can use one of these methods to help you fall asleep more easily.
The Reason It’s Effective:
Breathing deeply and slowly several times can help you relax. Pranayamic breathing, as this technique is often known, is thought to calm the nervous system, making it easier to fall asleep.
The Proper Procedure:
First, you may try counting breaths.
- Relax and take deep, calm breaths in through your nose.
- Calmly let the air out of your lungs through your mouth.
- Sum up the numbers. Each time you inhale and exhale, or each time you inhale and exhale, can be counted.
Method 4-7-8, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, is Option 2.
- During this breathing exercise, your tongue should be held along the ridge behind your front two teeth.
- Close your mouth and count to four as you take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Wait until you reach the number seven before you release your breath.
- While counting to eight, open your mouth and let out a deep breath. A whooshing sound should be made when you exhale because of where your tongue is.
- Three more times, try the 4-7-8 method.
That’s Perfect for:
Those who are just starting out with relaxation techniques or who have trouble using other objects of focus, such as imagery or mantras, may find that controlled breathing is an ideal place to start.
Meditation and Mindfulness
The Reason It’s Effective:
Mindfulness emphasizes taking deep, regular breaths and paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It has been shown to offer far-reaching health benefits, including a capacity to aid in the reduction of sleeplessness, by lowering levels of anxiety and ruminative thinking.
The Proper Procedure:
Mindfulness meditation comes in a wide variety of forms, each tailored to a particular purpose. The body scan is one accessible kind of meditation.
- Just breathe normally, taking in a full breath and letting it out gently.
- Take note of how you’re lying on the bed.
- Keep an eye out for any unusual feelings in your lower body. Relax and give yourself a break.
- Carry on the “body scan,” noticing how you feel in each part of your body from your feet to your head. The objective is to allow every part of your body unwind while remaining fully present and observing your physical self without judgment or reaction.
- When you’ve finished going over every area, take a moment to think about your body as a whole and give it a moment to unwind.
This version is based on a guided meditation practice available through the Greater Good in Action (GGIA) initiative at the University of California, Berkeley.
That’s Perfect for:
Anyone is capable of meditating, and mindfulness meditation is no exception; however, some people may need more time to adjust. Therefore, those who can set aside at least five minutes per day to build on their confidence in using it will see the most benefits.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The Reason It’s Effective:
By systematically contracting and releasing muscles all throughout the body in time with deep, regulated breaths, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can be used to induce a state of calm.
The Proper Procedure:
- Try closing your eyes and breathing normally for a while.
- Tense your facial muscles (lips, eyes, and jaw) for 10 seconds, then relax them and take a few deep breaths.
- Tensing the muscles in your neck and upper back can help reduce stress.
- To the upper arms
- Relax your upper limbs and hands
The People Who Will Benefit the Most From It:
Sleep deprived individuals have been shown to benefit from PMR, and those who suffer from arthritis or other physical pain may also reap some benefits if they practice it correctly. Patients with unmanaged cardiovascular disease should not undergo PMR.
The Reason It’s Effective:
Focusing on a pleasant mental image from your past and recalling its specifics helps you unwind.
The Proper Procedure:
- Sit in a relaxing position with your eyes closed and recall a peaceful time or place from your past, perhaps a stroll through a tranquil park.
- Take a deep breath in and out and take a moment to think over the sights before you.
- Maintain your concentration on this image by filling it out with sensory details (smell, sound, taste, touch) and basking in the peace it brings you.
The People Who Will Benefit the Most From It:
Those who are more of a visual thinker and can recall vivid memories from their past may find that visualizing a peaceful scenario while lying in bed helps them relax.
Are There Downsides to Relaxation Techniques?
Although most people report positive results from using relaxation techniques, some may experience increased anxiety. If you have any reservations about trying any of these techniques, I strongly advise you to consult your doctor first.
What to Do About Mind Wandering
Don’t feel bad if your mind wanders during these relaxation techniques; even seasoned meditators do this from time to time. Try to keep your cool, breathe steadily, and redirect your attention elsewhere.
What If I Still Can’t Fall Asleep?
After 20 minutes of trying to sleep in bed, if you still haven’t had any luck, get out of bed, walk to another room in the house, and do something relaxing there instead.
When you spend too much time lying awake in bed, your mind begins to associate the bedroom with being awake. In contrast, your bed should evoke images and emotions that help you relax and drift off to dreamland.
Pre-Bedtime Tips to Help Fall Asleep Quickly
There are a few easy things you may do before getting into bed that will help you relax and fall asleep more quickly:
- Relax for at least half an hour prior to sleep. Activities like reading and moderate stretching are perfect during this time.
- If you’re having trouble sleeping, putting down your close-range electronic gadgets like a laptop, phone, or tablet may help.
- Turn down the lights to give your eyes a rest and dress in loose, cozy clothes.
- Adjust the temperature in your bedroom to a level that’s comfortable for you. In this case, the colder the better.
- Think about diffusing a soothing aroma, like lavender essential oils, to help you relax.
- Large meals, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol should be avoided in the hours before night.
Pre-Bedtime Tips To Help Fall Asleep Quickly
Check out the following activities for those times when sleep just won’t come.
1. Wait 30 Minutes
According to Michael Perlis, Ph.D., head of the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, if you’ve been trying to fall asleep for a while without success, you might want to give yourself about half an hour to regroup before trying again.
Get out of bed and go to a different room in the house to do something calming, like yoga, reading, or journaling. You can look forward to sleeping on the cold side of the pillow by the time you go to bed again.
2. Keep the Room Cool, Dark, and Comfortable
It’s important to get into bed in a cool, dark room to maximize your chances of a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that a temperature range of 60–67 degrees Fahrenheit is most conducive to restful sleep (15 to 19 degrees Celsius).
In addition, eliminate any sources of light (such a smartphone screen) that can keep you from falling asleep. Consider installing a glow light in your bedroom to help you go off to sleep easily at the end of the day.
3. Switch Up Your Sleeping Position
It’s not easy to change from your usual sleeping position, whether you prefer to sleep on your back, side, or stomach. Trying a new sleeping position may help you get some shut-eye if you’re having trouble dozing off.
Only 7% of the population sleeps on their stomachs, whereas over 55% sleep on their sides and 38% sleep on their backs. While no single sleeping position is best for everyone, you may increase your chances of a restful night by purchasing the appropriate pillow.
4. Sleep Solo
However, a Mayo Clinic study found that pet owners who slept with their animals experienced more frequent awakenings. Instead, spend some quality time with your dog right up until bedtime, when you should separate into your own beds.
5. Do Calming Yoga
Tossing and turning at night can make you antsy in the morning. Yoga for sleep is a terrific technique to reset your mind and body and get some shut-eye when this happens.
Doing yoga before bed doesn’t require you to be a human pretzel, and a recent study indicated that combined resistance training and stretching before bed led to significant improvements in people with persistent insomnia. Try doing some gentle yoga for five minutes, focusing on calming poses like child’s pose (Balasana), before bed to help you unwind and drift off more easily.
6. Try Practicing Mindfulness
When you can’t sleep, practicing mindfulness might help you relax your muscles and ignore distracting thoughts. Health benefits associated with mindfulness practice include decreased anxiety, improved stress management, and enhanced relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation is beneficial at any time of day, but if you’re exhausted but can’t fall asleep, doing it right before bed can help set the mood. Listed below are some suggestions for beginning or reviving your mindfulness practice:
- Think about the regularity (or lack thereof) of your breathing.
- Take a look at your toes and fingers; how relaxed are they?
- Listen carefully; is there background noise, or are you hearing complete silence?
7. Relax Your Muscles
Not being able to sleep? Try these muscle relaxing techniques. Scientific research confirms the beneficial effects of physical relaxation practices on sleep quality.
The military method is a common technique for relieving muscle tension that entails lying on one’s back and systematically loosening every muscle in one’s body, beginning with the face.
If you’re exhausted but can’t fall asleep, try the military approach instead:
- Relax your body and mind by lying down on your bed.
- Start at the top of your head by tensing your facial muscles and releasing them, then work your way gently down to your toes.
- Take slow, deep breathes in and out until your entire body relaxes.
- For the next 10 seconds, try not to let any ideas into your mind. If you find your mind wandering, picture a serene scene, such a lake or open prairie.
- Let your mind, body, and breath unwind while you lie in bed.
8. Go Commando
You read that correctly. Sleeping naked may have health benefits, and those who do so report doing it mostly for comfort. Naked sleeping has been shown to assist people achieve a more optimal core body temperature (about 60–67 degrees Fahrenheit) and act as a biological indication to the body that it is time to sleep.
9. Do a Body Scan
Self-body scans are a fantastic stress-reduction technique. A body scan may sound like a scary procedure performed in a hospital, but in reality, it’s a simple at-home exam. Similar to the military method, this form of relaxation has been demonstrated to enhance the quality of one’s slumber.
Simply relax each part of your body individually until your entire body is at ease, and then repeat the process. The 10-20 minutes it takes to complete a full body scan gives you plenty of time to go within and release tension from every muscle.
When you just can’t get to sleep, try this body scan.
- Relax and lay down in bed.
- From your head down, concentrate on relaxing each and every muscle until you feel completely at ease.
- Starting with the muscles in your face and neck, work your way slowly down your body.
- Roll your tummy inwards and up your torso, then down your arms.
- Take your time and unwind from your hips all the way down to your toes.
- After 10–20 minutes, assess your level of stress to evaluate whether any more action is required.
10. Try Journaling
Journaling is a great hobby for when you’re exhausted but can’t sleep because your mind is racing. One study found that writing out one’s to-do list in a journal before going to bed can help one fall asleep much more quickly. If you have trouble falling asleep when counting sheep, try spending five minutes writing down a detailed to-do list for the following several days.
11. Focus On Your Breathing
Focusing inward and on your breathing may help you relax and drift off to sleep if you’re having difficulties dozing off at night. One technique for this is to practice regulated breathing, which entails taking several long, slow breaths to induce a state of relaxation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, advocated by University of Arizona Clinical Professor of Medicine Dr. Andrew Weil, can be used to alleviate sleep anxiety by focusing on something other than your body’s physiological needs.
When you can’t sleep, try the 4-7-8 method:
- Exhale entirely, slowly.
- To begin, take a four-second deep breath in through your nostrils.
- For the next seven seconds, do not breathe.
- Relax your breath and let it out for eight seconds.
- Use this procedure at least four more times.
12. Consider Taking Melatonin
The hormone melatonin has been shown to have a sedative effect. For those who have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, melatonin pills can be purchased without a prescription.
Based on your internal body clock, the pineal gland in your brain converts serotonin into melatonin. Raised melatonin levels have been shown to reduce blood pressure and core temperature, two factors that can make it easier to wind down for the night. The time it takes for melatonin to take effect varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors including age, coffee use, light exposure, body size, and cigarette smoking.
Soft ambient noises have been demonstrated to improve sleep quality and help people fall asleep up to 38% faster, whether you favor the sounds of a relaxing stream, heavy rainfall, or the air conditioner.
13. Put Your Phone Across the Room
Most of us now have the habit of checking social media on our phones right before turning in, and nine out of ten Americans use some kind of electronic gadget in the hour or so before hitting the sack. It has been established, however, that technology use right before bedtime has a negative effect on the quality of sleep. This is in part due to the stimulating effects of blue light, which is emitted by electronic displays.
If, after a few minutes of tossing and turning (I won’t judge), you go for your phone, you might want to consider turning off the screen and putting your phone across the room.
14. Listen to Ambient Noise
White, pink, or brown noise are all examples of ambient sounds that may benefit those who have difficulties sleeping. Although white noise has become the standard for “sleep sounds,” there are actually a number of other noises that can aid in getting a good night’s rest.
- A humming sound is produced by white noise since it contains all frequencies. A fan, the static from a TV, an air conditioner, or an air purifier all qualify as examples of white noise.
- Noise in the pink range has a lower frequency than white noise. Pink noise is often characterized by environmental sounds like rain, wind, or rustling leaves.
- When compared to pink and white noise, brown noise has a lower frequency. Waterfalls and thunder are two types of brown noise.
Big Picture Tips To Fall Asleep Easily
If you have trouble falling asleep on a regular basis, try incorporating some of these sleep-inducing strategies into your day.
15. Practice Sleep Hygiene
In order to get a better night’s rest, it’s important to practice proper sleep hygiene, which involves both individual behavior and environmental factors. Good sleep hygiene is the practice of developing and maintaining routines that promote restful sleep at all times of the day and night.
Simple practices that promote healthy sleep habits include:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime since they reduce the quality of your sleep and increase the likelihood that you may wake up during the night.
- Don’t let yourself link your bedroom with anything other than sleep and intimacy by avoiding using it for other purposes during the day. Stop this from happening by restricting use of the bedroom to sleeping and making out.
- Make your bedroom an oasis rather than a prison by arranging the furniture and lighting so that you can easily fall asleep when you go to bed. Making sure your bed is the proper size for your space is an excellent starting point. A king-sized memory foam mattress, for instance, might appear out of place in a 10′ x 10′ guest bedroom but would be perfectly at home in a master suite.
16. Kick the Afternoon Caffeine
Coffee may be associated with the morning, but many people like a second cup in the afternoon as well. Caffeine from coffee can keep you up for up to 10 hours, so that afternoon cup could keep you awake till the wee hours of the morning.
If you typically consume two or more caffeinated drinks per day, switching to a decaf version of your afternoon beverage may help you feel more rested and focused.
17. Exercise Earlier in the Day
Although a nighttime sweat can increase the amount of deep sleep you get, working out releases endorphins — the “happy hormone” that can sometimes keep you up. Exercise, says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, can also cause a rise in core body temperature, which tells the body that it’s time to be awake.
Although a nightly sweat can boost the amount of deep sleep you receive, working out releases endorphins — the “happy hormone” that can sometimes keep you up. Exercise, says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, can also cause a rise in core body temperature, which tells your body it’s time to be awake.
18. Limit Your Naps
While burning up a sweat before bed can help you get more quality Zs, the “happy hormone” endorphins released during exercise may keep you awake. Medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., claims that an increase in core body temperature caused by exercise sends a message to the brain that it is time to be awake.
Short naps of less than 30 minutes have been proved to be ineffective for recharging, while longer snoozes can leave people feeling foggy upon awakening. If you want to wake up feeling rejuvenated instead of drowsy, keep your naps to about 20 minutes.
19. Create a Better Environment for Sleep
Constructing a place that is conducive to rest requires careful planning from the ground up. In the same way that you want your office to inspire you to think outside the box and your gym to get your blood pumping, your bedroom should be a haven of peace and comfort.
Selecting the ideal bedroom colors for sleep to placing the perfect plants in your bedroom are just two examples of the many factors that go into making your bedroom a restful place to spend the night.
Controlling the temperature, humidity, light, and noise levels of your bedroom has been proved to improve sleep quality.
20. Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Even if you have an irregular sleep schedule, it’s best to stick to a routine if you want to feel rested and alert during the day. This is because your body has its own internal clock, called a circadian rhythm, that signals when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep.
However, if you’re not used to sticking to a regular bedtime, try shifting your routine by 15 minutes each night until you’ve reached your goal of a regular sleep pattern.
Let’s say you want to go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 8 a.m. (hey, we’ve all been there), but you usually stay up until 2 a.m.
21. Talk to a Sleep Specialist
If you’re at a loss as to what to do about your sleeplessness, a visit to a sleep doctor may be in order. In-depth, personalized advice is available from sleep specialists who are educated to look for underlying issues like sleep disorders during an evaluation.
It’s very annoying to be exhausted but be unable to fall asleep. If you have trouble sleeping, getting out of bed in the morning may seem like an even bigger challenge. We hope that this article will help you figure out what to do when you can’t sleep and provide you some advice on how to fall asleep, whether it’s a one-time incident or you’re continuously up counting sheep.
Are you prepared to turn out the lights? If you’re looking for a bed and a mattress that will make your dreams come true, then you need to check out our selection of memory foam mattresses and luxuriously soft bed sheets.
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