Picture this: It’s a weeknight and you’ve gotten all settled into bed. Your body feels tired but your brain is still thinking leftover thoughts from the day you’ve just had. Hours go by, the clock ticks, and you are no closer to falling asleep at 3 a.m. than you were at 9 p.m. Morning comes early and you find yourself groggy, grumpy, and desperate for a cure to your nighttime restlessness…
I’ve had more nights like this than I would like to admit. But, today I’m going to help you to avoid any future bouts of insomnia and start catching up on those much-needed zzz’s. Without further ado, here are 10 ways to help your body and mind fall asleep (and stay!) asleep.
1. Take some melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain makes to help your body fall asleep each night. It regulates your internal clock and gives you that natural feeling of drowsiness when your bedtime rolls around. So, it should come as no surprise that taking this hormone in pill form will help with fall asleep faster. It’s a natural sleep remedy and can help with everything from jet lag to consistent insomnia. Just made sure you are taking the right dosage: Your body makes its own amount of this hormone naturally, so taking too much can disrupt your body’s natural melatonin production.
2. Drink a bottle of Dream Water.
I recently discovered this remedy when I was browsing through the drugstore makeup isle and happening to stumble across this product. The description on the bottle claimed to be a “natural shot” of anxiety-reducing, sleep-inducing ingredients. Dream Water contains GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps reduce anxiety, and increase 5 HTP, an ingredient that helps to produce natural melatonin in your body. Long story short: I tried it, it works, and I highly recommend the “Paradise PM” flavor. Read more about Dream Water here.
3. Sip on sleepy time tea.
Any tea without caffeine will help to calm and relax you. And, despite what you may think, adding a little honey to your tea can help, too. According to Health.com, honey can have a sedative effect and help you fall asleep faster. You can usually find teas that are labeled for bedtime at the grocery store. Or, try combining chamomile tea (which relaxes) with 15 to 30 drops of milky oat seed tincture (strengthens the nervous system) to make your own at-home sleepy time tea.
4. Unwind with lavender.
The smell of lavender has a relaxing effect that naturally aids in sleep. You can buy a spray and spritz it onto your pillow each night. Or, my personal favorite, rub a little lavender essential oil into the palms of your hands then brush it through your hair and give yourself a mini scalp massage. The smell is soothing, the scalp massage is relaxing, and and it’s a great way to your mind ready for sleep.
5. Take a hot shower or bath.
According to Discovery Fit & Health, taking a hot shower two hours before bedtime can relax your body and make it ready for sleep. On the other hand, it may awaken you and stimulate your blood flow. Test this one out and see if it works for you. If it does, make a nightly shower or bath part of your bedtime ritual. And if you find that it wakes you up, you may want to think about becoming a morning shower person instead.
…but not just any book. Make sure it’s not a page-turner (like Gone Girl) that will actually keep you awake at night. If you’re reading a story that you can’t put down, make it your “daytime read.” Then pick a “bedtime book” that is less of a cliffhanger. A slow book will help your eyelids to get heavy, and chances are you’ll be asleep before you get to the next chapter.
7. Play a relaxing sound.
Many people find noises like the rainforest or the beach relaxing and soothing when trying to fall asleep. The reason behind this remedy is that our brains naturally crave sensory input, so when we try falling asleep in a quiet room, our minds will actually create “noise” in our heads, according to Dr. Ralph Pascualy, the medical director of Northwest Hospital Sleep Center. This “noise” can come in the form of stress, a to-do list, and other scattered thoughts that won’t turn off. So, instead, actually playing a soothing sound can help to turn those other noises inside your brain off. You can buy a sound machine, download relaxing sounds on iTunes, or even play a YouTube video (like this one). Just make sure to turn the brightness on your computer screen all the way down so that the glow doesn’t keep you awake. Which brings us to our next point…
8. Keep your room cold and dark.
Early humans grew accustomed to sleeping in cold dark places such as caves (hence, cavemen). Now that we are way out of the cave phase and in an era of civilization, creating a cave-like atmosphere might actually bring your body back to its roots and help it to sleep more soundly. Make your room cold by turning on the AC or buying a fan, which will help add a little white noise as well. Block out any light by hanging blackout curtains in your windows, stuffing towels under door cracks, or turning off all blinking and twinkling electronics that may be in your room. Yes, that means turning your phone on silent and flipping it upside down for the night.
9. Wake up earlier.
Rising with the sun will help you go to sleep easier at night when you’ve had a full, busy day that started off early. Sleeping in late, however, may throw off your sleeping schedule and give you energy until the wee hours of the next morning. Make an effort to wake up early if you want to go to bed at a reasonable time each night. And, start to make this a part of your regular sleep schedule. According to Apartment Therapy, you need at least two good nights of sleep to get deep, restorative rest. Three nights is ideal.
10. Have a bedtime snack.
If you like a late night snack, you will be pleased to learn that it might actually be helping you snooze each night. Make sure you’re choosing the right foods. High carb, low-protein snacks like toast are easy on your stomach and can ease your brain into sleep, according to Health.com. Drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime is also an age-old sleep remedy that helps you fall into a deep slumber because it contains tryptophan, a chemical that helps the brain ease into sleep mode. Other foods to snack on before bedtime include cottage cheese, cashews, chicken, turkey, soybeans, and tuna. Just make sure it’s a snack, not a meal. Going to bed on a full stomach can actually make your body work overtime to digest the food, keeping you awake.
Once you’ve tried a sleep remedy that works for you, keep yourself on a good sleep cycle by starting a sleep journal. Log in what you eat or do before bedtime and then in the morning, record if you slept well or not. This will help you to see insomnia triggers as well as some new sleep remedies you may discover on your own!
Do you have any bedtime tricks that help you fall asleep? Share them in the comments below so I can learn something new!