Tossing and turning again? We get it. Sleep can be such a tricky thing to try to do, especially because it's a state that should present itself so naturally. But that's how it goes. Thankfully, there are some hard and fast tactics you can employ, from maintaining a regular wake-up time to cutting back on coffee, to get your mind to stop and eyes to close. Here are 14 trusted tips. They're all simple (no machines or odd instruments involved) and sleep doctor approved. We hope they help.
1. Wake up at the same time every day
Keeping a consistent wakeup time allows your circadian clock to maintain a cycle that will make you sleepy at night. Even on weekends, doctors recommend waking up no more than two hours after your standard weekday time. This is the key to beating sunday night insomnia,which can skew your biological clock for the entire week.
2. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.
Caffeine — teacher, mother, secret lover. What we we do without it? But it takes a long time to break down in the body, and afternoon consumption can easily carry over to bedtime. Many people drink more coffee than they can metabolize in a single day. In one study, subjects given an 8 ounce cup of coffee six hours before bed lost a full hour of sleep.
3. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep
If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, don't just lay there and think terrible thoguhts. Doctors say it’s best to get out of bed and go do something else, like read a book or meditate (steer clear of TV if you can). Return to bed only when you feel truly sleepy. This will keep your brain from associating your bed with the anxiety of insomnia.
4. Turn down the temperature
Individual preferences vary, but most people sleep best at a temperature of around 65 degrees. A cooler core temperature tells the body that it’s time to start producing the hormones that bring on sleep. Colder bedrooms also have a positive effect on metabolism.
5. Limit your napping
Napping gets in the way of a consistent sleep schedule. Although the restorative power of a 20-to-30 power nap is well documented, anything longer will make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
6. Ban the blues
The blue light emitted by fluorescent light bulbs and electronic devices is similar to sunlight, and night time exposure prevents the body and brain from winding down. Sub out cool lightbulbs for warmer ones, and try to avoid screens as much as possible after sundown.
7. Skip the drinks
Although a nightcap can quickly bring on drowsiness, even a moderate amount of alcohol will seriously disrupt sleep. Alcohol prevents portions of the nervous system from fully shutting down, so a drunk sleeper is highly sensitive to stimuli and will wake up throughout the night without realizing it. Many of the classic symptoms of a hangover result from simple sleep deprivation.
8. Exercise 4-6 hours beore bed
Vigorous cardio during the day leads to better sleepat night, but it’s important not to exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise has a stimulant effect that can last for hours after you stop working out.
9. Keep bed use to two activities
Sleep specialists agree: you should only use your bed for sleeping and sex. Working from your bed, or even reading or talking on the phone while sitting in it will keep you from thinking that it’s a place for rest.
10. Find the perfect bedtime
It's not that difficult, we promise: Pick a time seven and a half hours before you typically need to wake up. The sleep cycle works in 90 minute phases,so waking up to an alarm after eight hours can disrupt deep sleep. There’s a link between waking at a natural point in the sleep cycle and falling asleep quickly and easily, and optimizing your bedtime can strike that balance.
11. Sniff some lavender
A 2005 studyfound that exposure to aerated lavender oil made it easier to fall asleep for normal sleepers and insomniacs alike. Unlike other chemical sleep ads, the scent alone was enough to have a significant effect.
12. Stay awake as long as possible
Reverse psychology can be a surprisingly powerful sleep aid. Sleep researcher Niall Broomfieldinstructed a group of insomniacs to stay awake for as long as they possibly could, without using electronics or exercising. After a few days, they were sleeping earlier and more soundly than a second group of insomniacs who had received no special instructions. They said that deliberately staying awake relieved them of their nightly anxiety.
13. Tire out your brain
Doing challenging math problems or word exercises can induce sleep in insomniacs. Mental exhaustion seems to clear out anxietyinducing thoughts from the day. Although the finding runs counter to other studies that show brain arousal postpones sleep, it’s not uncommonfor people to respond to stress by getting tired.
14. Black out the room
Unplug the night light — a truly dark roomwill lead to much better sleep. Bedroom light suppresses production of the vital hormone melatonin, which stimulates the physiological changes behind the sleep cycle. Even dim lights, like clock radios or a crack of street light under a curtain, can significantly impair the quality of sleep.