Counting sheep never actually works

sleep issues iconSleeping should be easy… It’s the absence of doing stuff, right? Well… not quite. Truth is, it’s shockingly common to find sleeping difficult. For some people, falling asleep is hard, while for others, staying asleep is the challenge. Fortunately, there are things we can do help make sleep come easier.

During the day

  • Try to wake up the same time every day. Even weekends.
  • Reduce caffeine intake. I know. I feel you. You needn’t stop all at once, but ease it back—try cutting yourself off at noon, then cutting your coffee in half, and then switching to tea, or half-caf/half-decaf…
  • Get some exercise. And do this earlier in the day so that you can take advantage of the energy burst, and then begin to unwind as the evening comes on.
  • Avoid napping during the day, even if you’re tired. If you absolutely must nap, try to keep it to under 30 minutes.
  • Give yourself time to digest your dinner before you try going to bed. Don’t introduce new calories (energy) right before bed.

Bedtime

  • Create a bedtime ritual—a set of steps to take each night to train your body and mind that it’s bedtime.
  • Turn off the screens about an hour before bed. Computers, tablets, and phones that emit blue light trick our brains into thinking that it’s the middle of the day, which doesn’t help us get to sleep when it’s two a.m.
  • If you haven’t fallen asleep within 20-30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Don’t keep trying to force yourself to sleep. Read a book (not a schoolbook—something fun), have a cup of herbal tea or warmed-up milk, maybe try knitting…? Then, when you start to feel sleepy, return to bed. Repeat as needed.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night, DON'T LOOK at the clock. Just roll over and pretend you're asleep.
  • Your bed is your sanctuary. Keep non-sleep and non-sex activities out of your bed to support your association of your bed with sleep. No reading textbooks in bed.
  • Make sure your environment supports your sleep. Some folks like white noise, like a fan. Some people like earplugs. Some prefer a cool room, and others like it warm. Find out what you like, and make your bedroom that way.

Substances and sleep

  • Some people mistakenly think that alcohol, a depressant, will help them sleep. Typically, though, this causes more trouble sleeping. So, if you are going to drink, try to have your last beverage a few hours before bedtime.
  • Similarly, some folks use cannabis as a short-term assist to get to sleep. However, evidence suggests that this causes long-term difficulty by disrupting your body's natural rhythms and waves. 

Sleep apps

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

Track your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleep, and gain insight into how you sleep.

 

Relax Melodies

Ease yourself to sleep with soothing sounds using this free app.