10 Simple ways to get sleepy for bed
You’ve managed to put down the remote and crawl into bed at a reasonable hour, but your sleep has other plans… if only there were ways to get sleepy, fast.
Figuring out how to fall asleep can be an elaborate affair. You’ve counted sheep, discovered there’s an end to Instagram and even planned out the next year in your head (bring it on, 2021!). Unfortunately, these techniques are not sleep-expert-approved. Which is why we’re here to show you how you can get to sleep easier, naturally.
The annoying thing about not falling asleep easily is that the desire to fall asleep faster can actually become the reason we can’t sleep. Stress linked to clock-watching, thinking about your inevitable next-day fatigue or listening to your bed partner snoring, are major barriers to falling asleep. No matter how tired you are.
But what happens when you know you should get to sleep but you aren’t tired?
How do you fall asleep when you’re not tired?
Oh, life. As we get older, we stop listening to our body’s natural cues. We stay awake later than we should, try to catch up on lost sleep and let the sleep-slapper of stress keep us awake. Cue insomnia.
A common effect of insomnia is knowing that it’s time for sleep (because your sleep hygiene said so) but being unable to fall asleep. You may find yourself getting tired, but the sweet feeling of succumbing to sleep feels foreign. This is largely due to fluctuations in your sleep-wake cycle.
So how do you fix this? It’s time to break a habit (or start a new one). Getting your body back into its natural sleep-wake cycle takes a lot a practise, patience and relaxation.
Let’s explore 10 proven techniques to help accelerate your journey into dreamland.
10 ways to get sleepy
The key here is to only go to sleep when you are actually feeling tired, but you may need to assist your body into sleep by picking up (or dropping) a few habits. This means limiting naps, getting exercise and following a good sleep hygiene routine. (Yup, Netflix gets the boot too.)
Chances are that if you’re reading this it’s the middle of the night and you’re in desperate need to get to sleep. Here are some steps to get immediate (and future) relief. Are you ready?
1. Get comfy
Could your bedding, sleepwear and mattress have something to do with you not getting to sleep? Most definitely.
- Check that your mattress is medium-firm (when was the last time you flipped it over?) so that it is supporting your body in the right sleeping alignment.
- Is your pillow supporting your neck properly? Studies have shown that orthopaedic pillows can promote better sleep than memory or feather pillows. Could it be time to invest in a new one?
- How’s your blanket feeling? Is it heavy enough to make you feel secure but not too hot that it has you clawing for cool air?
- What are you wearing to bed? Are your pyjamas comfortable, breathable and unrestrictive?
Feeling comfortable as you prepare for sleep is numero uno in giving your body time to relax and switch off. If you’re constantly readjusting your sleep position because you’re uncomfortable, this could be a good clue in why you’re not getting to sleep.
2. Avoid looking at the clock
To be able to get to sleep faster, you need to limit anything around you that might set off stress-triggers. Bedside clocks are one of them. Do yourself a favour: hide the clock. Constantly checking the time will only increase your stress, making it harder to switch off your nervous system and fall asleep. The more you think about not sleeping, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep.
3. Try the 4-7-8 breathing method
This breathing exercise is designed to help relax you by serving as a distraction technique. As you lie in bed, breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this for three or four cycles while counting in your head to keep your mind occupied.
By doing the 4-7-8 method you’re giving yourself an activity to focus on other than why you can’t sleep. This gives your body time to relax and activate your nervous system to signal it into a resting state.
4. Change your sleep position
Did you know that quality sleep may depend on your sleeping position? What’s your go-to sleep position? Is it on your back? Your stomach or your side? Or are you one of those sleepers that hog the bed with sprawled limbs?
There are a few best sleeping positions which promote better breathing, body alignment and the ability to fall asleep quicker. If you’re constantly waking up in the night with a stiff neck or from the kick of your bed partner, you may want to practise a different sleeping position.
5. Sleep in the dark
This may seem obvious, but any light interference (even peripheral) can prevent your body from getting its cue to go to sleep. If you have any electronics in your bedroom, such as a TV, ensure that all light emitted from plugs and switches are covered or turned off.
Additionally, investing in blackout curtains can further prevent streetlights (even moonlight) from peeking through to interrupt your sleep. If this doesn’t work, it may be time to buy an eye mask for sleeping.
6. Adjust the room temperature
Did you know that your temperature can also affect your circadian rhythm? It’s not just the light that keeps your sleep-wake cycle in sync, but your body temperature too.
As your body temperature cools while you sleep, you want your room to help your body regulate as you “cool-down.” The ideal room temperature should be between 15ºC and 20ºC, but if you can’t regulate your room’s temperature, then try adjusting your linen and sleepwear.
7. Listen to relaxing music
To fall asleep fast, you need to have a calm mind. And we couldn’t suggest a better way than being lulled to sleep listening to the sweet melody of sleep music. Sleep music is (as stated) specific music using slow rhythmic tunes of 60 to 80 beats per minute to help calm your nervous system and induce a completely relaxed state. Listening to 45 minutes of melodic sounds before bed has seen to significantly improve your sleep quality.
8. Try meditation
Before you think that this alternative sleep technique is just another fad, we’ve got news for you. (And we’re pretty sure at this point you’re willing to try anything to access even a hint of shut-eye). Guided-sleep meditation is a mindfulness and relaxation technique to help combat the stresses of a busy mind. Meditation enhances your melatonin levels to assist the brain in achieving a sleepy state. It’s also a great distraction technique to get you focusing on relaxing things rather than why you can’t sleep.
9. Drink some caffeine-free tea
If you’ve reached this stage and you still can’t sleep, you have our full permission to get up and make yourself a cup of caffeine-free tea. Drinking a tea such as chamomile, valerian root or lavender can help calm your mental state and signal your body (with the soothing warm tea hug) that it’s ready for sleep. (Finally!).
10. Read to make your eyes tired
What goes best with a good cup of tea? Yup, a good read. The trick here is to go old-school and ditch the tablet with the backlight as this can zap your much-needed melatonin levels (the hormone that helps you sleep). Also, choose a book that doesn’t have a riveting storyline. Remember the aim is to get you to fall asleep, not keep you awake in a whodunnit saga.
Improving sleep quality
When you become consistent in promoting a 5-star sleep routine, you will find that sleep comes more easily and that you’ll actually sleep better through the night.
Your sleep quality (as much as these tips above can help) is largely due to how you live your daily life. Keeping a healthy, balanced lifestyle and actively practising a good sleep hygiene routine can help improve your quality of sleep, the natural way.