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13 Things You Can Do To Help Yourself Fall Asleep

13 Things You Can Do To Help Yourself Fall Asleep

If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, it is could be due to lifestyle habits interfering with your sleep patterns. Here are 13 suggestions that you can easily put into practice. Once you find what works for you, you won’t have to take sleep aids or see a sleep specialist.

1. Always go to bed and wake up at the same time

Everybody knows about jet lag. Traveling across time zones upsets your body clock and sleep patterns get skewed. But when you go to bed at irregular hours and sleep late, you are also upsetting your sleep-wake cycle, albeit to a much lesser extent. Make sure you go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. Avoid oversleeping when tired or because of a late night.

2. Time to get a new mattress

Most people never bother to change their mattresses very often. The result is that physical discomfort negatively impacts your sleep. Did you know that the average life expectancy for a mattress is only eight years? Choosing a new mattress can be tricky, as its comfort is very hard to judge in the shop. Ideally, one should lie on a new mattress for at least 10 minutes to get a true feeling for how it feels.

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3. Build in winding down time

Getting ready for bed means making sure there is a gradual transition from daytime frenetic activity to restful repose. Taking a warm bath helps you to relax. Some people do stretching. Switch off all electronic devices and turn down the lighting. Make reading a regular habit so that the body learns that sleep time is approaching. Some people like to use an audio podcast with music as this will not disturb their partners or other family members.

4. Ban electronics from the bedroom

If you use any electronic devices in the bedroom, you are asking for trouble. The blue light from screens tends to trick your brain into thinking that it is daylight again and this light tends to block the supply of melatonin, which induces sleep. The other problem is that once your brain starts to suffer from an information overload, it is going to go into overdrive. Some people insist on checking emails on their mobile devices while they lie in bed. A Nytol survey showed that 50% of Brits were addicted to checking their social media accounts and emails in bed.

5. Take some magnesium

Most people with sleep disturbances are suffering from a magnesium deficiency and they are not even aware of it! Typical symptoms are cold hands and feet, and excruciating leg cramps in the early morning. Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that help the Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) receptors function. These block the glutamate and norepinephrine receptors which stimulate the brain so GABA may help the brain shut down. The recommended dose is between 400 and 500 milligrams (mg) before bed.

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6. Mental activities will help

When you cannot get to sleep, your mind may wander to thoughts of your insomnia, the causes and consequences, and how tired you will be in the morning. Start thinking about things which have absolutely nothing to do with your insomnia. Some of the following may work for you:

  • Do simple math, like counting backwards from 100.
  • Try going through the alphabet, thinking of a person’s name for each of the letters.
  • Visualize yourself in a beautiful, calm setting and picture yourself as you drift off.

7. Cut out stimulants before bed.

Most people have problems because of tea and coffee intake before bedtime. Alcohol can help you to get to sleep initially but you will be restless for the second half of the night. British researchers in one study published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal, found that alcohol upsets the thalamus area of the brain, which leads to disturbed sleep patterns. Cut out caffeine and alcohol well before evening to help yourself fall asleep faster.

8. Drink these before going to bed

One ideal nightcap is warm, skimmed milk because it has calcium and tryptophan, which can be converted into serotonin which helps you to feel drowsy. Another option is cocoa or hot chocolate, which help to produce phenethylamine. That can put you in a good mood. But chocolate has caffeine in it and some people find that it keeps them awake, so try what suits you best.  Instant malt drinks can also help, although they tend to be high in fat.

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9. Get enough daylight

Strange as it seems, you need to get enough daylight. One hour (or even 30 minutes) of natural sunlight will keep your wake-sleep cycle perfectly tuned. This really helps and it is just as important as turning down the lights an hour before bedtime.

10. Relax

One of the reasons you cannot get off to sleep is that fact you are too tense. This may be due to overwork, stress, or simply tensing up because you cannot sleep. Try relaxing every muscle group in your body. Start from the head and work down. As you do this, you will be astonished at how tense you were!

11. Exercise is great but..

Doing sports or any physical activity is great because it will make you tired. It will also get the endorphins going, which will put you in a good mood. It usually takes about four months for results to start kicking in.  The only thing you have to remember is that you cannot exercise too late in the evening, as it can to have the opposite effect of overstimulating you.

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12. Sex is good

Laura Berman, the director of the Berman Center for Women’s Sexual Health, says that people are getting less sleep and not having enough sex. Sex helps you sleep, as it releases oxytocin and endorphins. It also causes other hormonal changes which aid restful and deep sleep.

13. Make a list

Lots of people go to bed and already start worrying about the next day. They have a ton of things to do and they start fretting about everything, which leads to restlessness and poor sleep. A great idea is to make a list of all the things you need to take care of the next day before you go to bed. Writing them down gives you a sense of control and will help you to relax.

Now that you know where the problems lie, why not bookmark this page and start your plan of action. Sweet dreams!

Featured photo credit: dreaming of coffeedog/ Gregg O’Connell via via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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