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Published on July 16, 2018

Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest

Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest

Laying there, you watch the alarm clock change numbers more times than you’ve changed decisions on dinner.

You know you have to get some sleep because otherwise tomorrow is going to be a wreck. You plead with your body, begging it to enter a deep slumber for your own sanity. Of course that isn’t exactly working. But hey, you’ll try anything… you’re not above the begging.

Going to bed feeling “wide awake” is a common issue that many people struggle with, and one that isn’t easy to solve. There are multiple factors involved in your quest to fall asleep quickly and stay in a state of rest throughout the night.

There’s one thing we can all agree on, though – it’s an awful predicament.

Lucky you, there are ways we can combat this feeling and get to bed feeling relatively tired before we even lie down. I’ll show you several ways you can get to bed feeling just a bit more ready to accept an awesome night’s sleep:

1. Put the phone and laptop away at least an hour before bed

I’ll start with the no-brainer but the one that people continually struggle with the most.

Yes, we know we need to shed ourselves of those things called “technology”; you know, the phones, the laptops, the computers, the TVs, the tablets, the phablets (a phone the size of a tablet), and the list goes on and on and on. We’re connected to them all day, and if we had the choice, we’d be connected to them all night.

We’re hooked; consumer electronics barely leave our fingertips, and they have the pleasure of being our eyes’ object of affection for most of the day. Sometimes, I wonder what our phones or computer would say to us if it knew how much we stare at them.

I’m glad they don’t talk. Well, I take that back since some already do on command. I’m just glad they don’t give us their unwarranted opinions.

The least you can do is give each other a little space when the sun goes down. A little time away from each other never hurt anybody. Not a lot of time, just a few hours.

The easiest way is to have the charger in another room (the room that you don’t spend evenings in) and when it’s time to wind down for the evening, plug it in and walk away. And then eventually go to bed, blissfully knowing your email or social media will be just fine.

Try the whole I’ll give you a couple hours space; it works for relationships too.

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2. Immerse yourself in some reading before bed

We all could use a little more reading.

I’d wager that a lot of us at some point or another put it as a goal. Yet we fall short just about every time.

Instead, we pick up that phone, open that laptop, or turn on that TV for a little more instant gratification. Oy, reading takes so much effort.

Well, since you’ll be putting your phone and laptop away a little bit earlier than usual, why not fill the void with some light reading?

Any kind of book will do, or even a magazine if so inclined. The idea is to actually read words on paper, not on an LCD or LED screen.

Feeling a little out of your comfort zone? That’s ok, I know it may seem like a foreign activity, but you’ll find that the peacefulness and relaxing nature of reading a book can do wonders for your sleep pattern.

Plus, your eyes will thank you.

3. Engage in a calm or soothing habit

Hobbies is a word that has become increasingly rare in today’s generation. I’m beginning to think people are forgetting the definition of the word.

Put together, most of us spend well over an hour a day on social media, valuable time that could be used towards a hobby.

No, watching movies, hanging with friends, or going to the gym doesn’t count.

Instead, look to pick up some actual hobbies, and more specifically, soothing ones.

What exactly does soothing mean? Generally, it’s anything that allows you to relax while doing it. That means it doesn’t cause stress and doesn’t force you to be hyper-aware or exert any kind of physical activity. Things such as knitting, painting, and reading (ring a bell?) all work well.

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Do a little research on potential hobbies you could pick up that help you relax.

Allowing your brain to focus on the task at hand and “disconnect” from real world problems, even temporarily, can help reset and lower your anxiety and stress, all factors that affect your sleep.

4. Eat a healthy diet, and stay satiated at night

Eating healthy goes beyond just feeling good, it actually helps you sleep much better too.

There is a myth that eating before bed is a bad thing; in fact, the opposite could hold true. Eating the right foods at night can help stave off those all too familiar hunger pangs, and give your body the right fuel it needs to rebuild itself while you sleep.

The trick, of course, is eating the right foods – anything super salty, fatty, or sugary won’t do you very much good. You’ll just end up feeling uncomfortable, which affects your ability to fall asleep.

Instead, aim for things such as complex carbs, fruit, or non-starchy vegetables. Check out the best foods to help you sleep better.

And most importantly, don’t go to bed hungry – listen to your body.

Throughout the day, make sure you feed it the right things too – a bad diet is a huge step backwards in a lot of areas, including your sleep cycles. A healthy, nutritious, balanced diet ensures your body is working optimally.

The last trick is to avoid eating right before bed; as in don’t graze your way through the fridge and then throw yourself under your covers and turn out the lights.

Give it a little bit of time, preferably at least an hour before bed. But if you last ate six hours ago…give yourself some fuel.

5. Pick up meditation

Even though the most convenient (and thus easiest) time to meditate is in the morning, you’ll soon find out that this science-backed activity can benefit you more than 16 hours later as you’re trying to fall asleep.

If you need some convincing to start, here’s what meditation can do for you health wise:

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  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase immune health
  • Increase focus
  • Shrinks the brain’s amygdala (the part that deals with fear and emotion)[1]

Meditation can also offer the following overall benefits:

  • Increase self-awareness
  • Induce relaxation
  • Increase happiness
  • Increase self-acceptance

And the list goes on and on.

Confused where to start?

Spend five minutes sitting still in the morning before you begin your day, and even do the same at night before bed.

Find a meditation app that can guide you if you find yourself having trouble sitting still and relaxing. Or do a simple Google search to find hundreds of guides on different types of meditation.

Or simply check out this guide: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

6. Get involved in exercise

Exercise has also proven itself extremely beneficial, and with probably thousands of studies done (don’t quote me on that but I’d argue it’s possible) that show its true benefits, you would be hard pressed to ignore it in today’s modern age.

All in, exercise can help with the following:[2]

  • Control your weight
  • Control your hormones
  • Reduce your risk for diseases (such as heart disease) and cancers
  • Improve your mental mood
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your sexual health

Regular exercise also helps improve your sleep, by allowing you to enter a deeper sleep sooner, and for longer.[3]

Deep sleep, known as REM, is our most restorative sleep we can achieve. The more time you spend in deep sleep, the more you can boost your immune system, improve cardiovascular health, and control stress/anxiety.

Not to mention, physical exercise takes effort in the form of expended energy. The more energy you expend, the more tired you get eventually. By expending all this energy, you’ll feel tired sooner in the evenings, allowing you to fall asleep much faster.

Where to start? Get moving! Join a local gym for some intro classes, do some simple bodyweight workouts at home. Again, Google is your best friend here. The options are overwhelmingly unlimited.

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Try these 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

Keep this is mind: there is no one right way. Start something, and tweak at will.

7. Keep a consistent schedule

Consistency in your sleep patterns come as a result of keeping a regular routine.

The easiest way to get knocked off schedule is by constantly shifting your bed time or what you do in the few hours before bed.

By having a fairly standard routine in place, you begin to trick your brain into knowing that bed time is coming simply by initiating certain activities.

The same phenomenon explains why trying to read in bed (if you never do) makes you fall asleep quickly. If all you ever do in bed is sleep, then your brain assumes that lying in bed means it’s time to sleep, right?

If one day you decide to try to read in bed, you might find yourself waking up an hour later. Why is that?

Your brain thought it was time to sleep. So it initiated its sequence to make that happen. It didn’t know what reading in bed meant, and so it did what it knows best – sleep.

This is exactly why you should make sure to keep your bed reserved for two activities only – sleep and sex. Otherwise, you risk having your brain adapt to the idea that your bed doesn’t always mean it’s time to sleep.

The bottom line

If you find that your sleep schedule is inconsistent, you have trouble falling asleep and you wake up feeling about as sluggish as your hungover Sunday mornings in college, it might be time to reassess all the things you do in your waking hours.

Putting technology away, reading, finding soothing hobbies, eating healthy, meditating, exercising and keeping a consistent schedule will all help you achieve better sleep.

But it’s up to you to actually implement them. What will you do to wake up feeling refreshed?

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Scientific America: What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?
[2] MedLine Plus: Benefits of Exercise
[3] Sleep Doctor: The Benefits of Exercise For Sleep

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Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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