I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?
Falling asleep isn’t always a matter of relaxing and closing your eyes. Some nights, getting comfortable seems impossible. Luckily, there are ten easy things you can do to speed up how fast you’re snoozing after your head hits the pillow.
1. Keep a journal.
Writing in a journal before bedtime is a great way to get intrusive and distracting thoughts down on paper and out of your way. Anxieties in your journal are far easier to deal with than anxieties in your head. Writing down worrying thoughts is a time tested and effective way of dealing with them.
If you feel uncomfortable writing down what’s bothering you, start with a to-do list. By writing down everything you need to do the next day, you can focus on the task at hand: sleeping.Advertising
2. Sleep in the dark.
It might seem obvious, but a dark room is vital for falling asleep. Any light that your eyes are exposed to before bed impairs melatonin production in the brain. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep.
If you don’t have complete control over the level of light in your room (maybe your roommate just doesn’t understand early-morning classes), consider using a sleep mask. Even if your room isn’t pitch black, a sleep mask will help eliminate unnecessary light.
3. Sleep in a quiet environment.
Unlike your eyes, which close blissfully as you float off to dreamland, ears stay wide open while you’re asleep. Sudden loud noises will wake you up, but quieter, distracting noise can also interrupt your snoozing.
Turning off the TV in the next room is the first step to eliminating extra noise. If you sleep in an area with a lot of noise (blame the neighbor’s party), try sleeping with earplugs or a white noise generator. Listening to music to relax and fall asleep can also work—just make sure the music will automatically stop after a certain time.
4. Get comfortable.
Being comfortable while you sleep has a serious impact on sleep quality. A good mattress will go a long way toward improving your rest and how long it takes to fall asleep.Advertising
Though most people have their own preference when it comes to the temperature they prefer to sleep in, a light chill will improve sleep quality, since the body experiences a drop in temperature and metabolic rate during sleep. A cold room will even make the blankets feel better, so try cracking a window next time you’re tossing and turning.
5. Make use of relaxing aromas.
Though your nose won’t channel as many distractions as your eyes and ears, the nasal passage is a direct route to the brain. Most smells won’t impair sleep, but preliminary research suggests certain aromas can help relax you and speed up the rate at which you fall asleep.
Lavender can be very relaxing. If your roommate’s dirty laundry is becoming difficult to deal with, try lavender aromatherapy.
6. Control your daily stress.
Step one, the nightly journal entry, is a good start to managing the stress of your day-to-day life. Jotting down concerns and anxieties before bed might help you relax, but if you’re not taking time during the day to reduce stress, you might be overwhelmed before you even get to bed.
Proper diet and exercise will help reduce daily stress. Many people enjoy meditation as a way to relieve stress. If you’re not willing to jump into mediation, try active relaxation. Take some time out of your day to sit or lay down comfortably and allow your mind to wander, away from the worries of work and school.Advertising
7. Time your coffee intake.
Caffeine’s ability to get you up and going in the morning will bite back when it’s time for bed. Even veteran coffee drinkers with a strong caffeine tolerance will have trouble falling asleep if too much caffeine is consumed before bed.
Caffeine is metabolized at different speeds in different people. If you’re not a frequent coffee drinker, give yourself at least eight hours between having a cup and your ideal bedtime. If you consider yourself used to coffee’s effects, try to make sure you’ll be up for at least five more hours before committing to a mug of the good stuff.
8. Rethink your diet.
You are what you eat, and what you eat will determine how well you sleep. A consistent lack of carbohydrates can impair sleep. This usually coincides with the bad mood that a lack of carbs brings. If you realize you’ve been trying to shake a grumpy feeling all day, you may also have trouble sleeping that night.
Carbs facilitate the production of serotonin, which the body uses to create melatonin. If you’re on a low-carb diet and are having trouble sleeping, try eating most of your carbs during dinner. This will provide you with enough to get through the night comfortably.
9. Treat your insomnia with melatonin.
You’ve tried all of the above, and you still find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours, unable to fall asleep, night after night. If your problem is specifically with falling asleep, supplementing melatonin can help.Advertising
Melatonin is safe and very effective at helping people fall asleep. To take melatonin, either supplement a 3mg time release capsule, or start with 500mcg capsules and find the lowest dose that helps you fall asleep. Be careful, taking too much can result in some serious morning grogginess.
10. Try other supplementation options.
Melatonin is the best option for reducing sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep), but if your problems concern sleep quality, you’ll need to look elsewhere. There are many sleep aid supplements on the market, but they will benefit the body in different ways.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a popular sedative. It is not addictive, and helps calm hyperactive minds and intrusive thoughts. Glycine is a cheap and safe amino acid that can improve sleep quality when supplemented. If you wake up in the morning feeling like you need to roll over for another eight hours, glycine may help you get the most out of your night.
More things to know about sleep: 11 Sleep Habits of Successful People
Last Updated on December 9, 2019
5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively
Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it, plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!
Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.
Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:
1. Get Rationally Optimistic
Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.
This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.
In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”
The result: no more mental stress.
Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.
How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.
It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.
3. Easy on the Caffeine
Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.
Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.
4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door
That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.
How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:
- Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
- St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
- Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.
While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.
5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise
This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.
The result: mental stress will be gone!
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.
More to Help You Feel Relaxed
- The Importance of Scheduling Downtime
- 3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Relax and Reduce Stress
- How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressed
Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com