How to Go to Sleep
Everyone suffers from insomnia from time to time; however, there are others with whom sleep is elusive night after night. When this happens, it can lead to problems during the daytime hours, such as chronic fatigue, poor performance at work, and the development of unhealthy ways to sleep. Clearly, many people need help in getting to sleep and staying asleep at night. These “get to sleep” tips should allow you to have a natural sleep pattern and go to sleep quickly and easily.
Let’s look at some healthy ways you can use starting tonight to get a better night’s sleep:
1. Create a sleep environment
You should sleep reclining in your bed, which should be reserved only for sleeping and sex. If you do too much reading, eating, or watching television in your bedroom, your body will not associate the bedroom as a sleeping place and your bedroom will not trigger thoughts of sleep when the time comes. Most people sleep better in the dark so make sure the curtains are keeping out extra light. A small night light can be installed in an outlet in your room that will help light the way to getting to the bathroom at night or if you feel uncomfortable falling to sleep in total darkness.
2. Don’t exercise right before sleep
Exercise gets your heart pumping and increases your metabolism and the effects can last for an hour or more. Sleep is a time for slowing the breath and heartrate. Your metabolism should slow down during sleep and exercising runs counterbalance to these bodily states.
3. Take no stimulants before sleep
This means that you should not drink caffeinated sodas or caffeinated coffee/tea before sleeping. Instead, consider drinking a tea that promotes sleep, such as chamomile tea. Try to avoid sugar before sleep because it revs up your metabolism by causing spikes in blood sugar that need your metabolism to bring back down again. Nicotine is a stimulant so smoking before sleep will not help you get to sleep.
4. Have a sleep ritual
Think of some things you can incorporate into a sleep-inducing ritual. Brush your teeth, put on comfortable sleeping clothes, perhaps play a relaxation tape or meditate/pray before sleep, and ready your house so it is quiet, dark and sleep-inducing. The ritual will be associated with sleep and your brain will naturally follow through.
5. Consider light meditation before sleep
Relax in your bed, consciously relaxing all parts of your body. Concentrate on having a slow, deep breathing pattern. Say a mantra inside your head or actually whisper it to yourself. A good mantra for sleeping is to whisper “sleep, sleep, sleep” to yourself as you lie there with your eyes closed, matching your mantra with your regular breathing pattern.
6. Block out noise
Some people are used to the regular sounds of the city, including traffic outside their window, but most people need more silence when they sleep. There are a couple of ways to block out noise. You can wear a comfortable pair of ear plugs when you sleep, which will dampen your hearing to external noise. You can also choose to use a “sleep machine”, which can deliver sounds of the ocean, the sound of falling rain, or just a white noise pattern. Your ears will focus on that instead of the other noises. Try to buy one that is on a timer so it shuts off after you have fallen asleep.
7. Avoid alcohol before sleep
Alcohol is a depressant but you can’t really fall asleep well when you are buzzed on alcohol. If you get to sleep at all, you will not have a restful sleep and you may wake up during the night after the alcohol has worn off.
8. Exercise about four or more hours before sleep
Evidence suggests that light exercise such as walking on a treadmill or taking a stroll outside in your neighborhood can help you in the process of getting to sleep. You can learn how to get better sleep, simply by expending a little bit of energy and allowing your physiological parameters such as your rate of breathing and your heartbeat to settle down before you get to sleep.
9. Find the best combination of bed, covers and pillows
Some people feel fine using one pillow while others need two or more pillows. Others sleep better with a thin pillow or a long body pillow to wrap their body in. If you are too cold, use a warm quilt to cover up. If you are too warm, use just a sheet or a light blanket to cover you. Make sure your mattress is as firm or as soft as is comfortable for you. Everyone’s comfort level is different.
Bad sleeping habits to avoid
Many people have developed poor ways to fall asleep that may actually worsen the quality of their sleep. For example, some people turn to alcohol just prior to getting to sleep, which disrupts the natural sleep cycle. Others exercise before bedtime as a way to fall asleep. This, too, does not do much to help you learn how to go to sleep quickly and how to stay asleep during the night. Still more do really unhealthy things like drink coffee before sleep, putting too much caffeine in their body, which is not conducive to sleeping.
Don’t despair if you have to try different things in order to get to sleep. Everyone’s sleep habits are different and you can and should find natural ways of falling asleep. While there are pills for falling asleep, they are addictive and don’t give you a normal night’s sleep. They should be used only if all other methods of falling asleep fail you.