Do you look forward to a good night’s sleep only to find you are wide awake the second your head hits the pillow? Or maybe it’s right as you are lying down that all your worries and stresses begin flowing unbidden through your brain. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night can cause sluggishness and lack of focus during the day, but can also contribute to more serious health issues if loss of sleep is consistent.
Needless to say, it’s important to get enough rest each night; while the number of hours per night can vary from person to person, it’s recommended that the average healthy adult get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. If you struggle with sleeping, this recommendation can seem like an unattainable dream. Take heart, there are some things you can do to make falling and staying asleep a little easier.
Creating a bedtime routine is an easy way to can calm your mind and ease stress. By going through the same process night after night, you can train your brain and prepare your body to go to sleep. There are many techniques you can incorporate into your routine, and it’s really important for you to choose the ones you enjoy. What works for some, may not work for everyone.
Here are six ideas you can try as you start to build a routine that helps you sleep better.
1. Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night
Choose a time for bed when you naturally begin to feel sleepy—for some that may be early while others are able to stay up later. Hitting the hay at the same time each night will help set your internal clock and help you get better sleep.
Take a few minutes before bed to write down what happened during your day, how you are feeling, or anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be a novel, a few sentences are fine. Putting thoughts to paper can help clear the brain of worries as you are getting ready for sleep.
3. Turn Off Screens an Hour Before Bedtime
It’s important to turn off your tv, video games, and phone at least an hour before bed. The light from your devices can mess around with your internal clock making you feel more awake than you really are. Not only can the light be an issue, but it’s very easy to get sucked into “one more game” or to find yourself scrolling through social channels and suddenly realizing that it’s hours after your intended bedtime.
4. Calm the Mind
Use the 15-20 minutes before bed to relax your mind. How you choose to do this is heavily based on personal preference—listen to music, read a book, find a restful yoga routine, take a bath, knit, try meditating, or whatever it is that quiets your brain. As noted above, try to stay away from screens, though following a guided meditation or yoga class online is acceptable as long as you turn off your device when it is over.
5. Set Up a Relaxing Room
Your surroundings can have a major impact on the quality of sleep you get. Being comfortable and feeling calm in your room will go a long way in ensuring a good night’s sleep. Here are some ideas to consider:
Declutter. If your room is a mess, it will do nothing to help your brain calm down. Cleaning up your bedside table, floor, and bureau can give your mind the space it needs to relax.
Keep your room temperature between 60-67 degrees, which experts say is optimal for sleeping.
Make sure you have a good mattress and pillow so that you are able to get comfortable rather than tossing and turning all night.
Buy sheets that feel good when you crawl into bed.
6. Prepare for the Next Day
The thoughts that come to mind when trying to fall asleep oftentimes have to do with the next day’s plans: What are you going to wear? What do you need to get done at work? Remember to stop and do those errands. Before you go to bed, lay your clothes out for the next day and make a list of the things you need to get done at work and around the house. Leave a notepad and pen next to the bed so you can write your thoughts down in case something new comes to you as you are getting ready to fall asleep. Getting it on paper will get it out of your head and stop you from worrying about it.
It may take a few nights of trying different sleep techniques to find one that works for you. The important thing is to not stress yourself out about coming up with the perfect routine right away. Start with one and see how you like it. If it doesn’t work, don’t get frustrated, just try something else the next night. You’ll be in dreamland before you know it.
Written by Suzanne Loring for Matcha in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.