In an ideal world, our days would be filled with energetic activities and at night time, we’d be just tired enough to fall naturally into a perfect 8-hour slumber.
Well, needless to say, that’s not the case for the majority. We’re complex beings. Our lives are chaotic, so we’re far from the ideal we just described.
So come bedtime, your mind is often preoccupied with the thoughts and impressions of the preceding day, anxieties about tomorrow, and all kinds of other worries that leave you tossing and turning for hours, not being able to sleep, no matter how tired you are.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take your brain out, leave it on the nightstand and get a break from it for the night?
There’s a solution. In fact, there are few solutions. Today, we’ll talk about 7 effective strategies to can help you get the perfect night sleep.
1) Understand your body’s cycles
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine went to three circadian rhythm researchers. This concept is gaining more attention than ever, mainly because it has the potential to make people more productive.
Each one of us has an inner biological clock, which determines the daily cycles of physical, behavioral, and mental changes. Those cycles are what we call our circadian rhythm.
Our body determines its own sleep patterns by producing melatonin; the hormone that makes us sleepy. When you understand how your inner clock works, you’ll be able to adjust your sleeping schedule in accordance with it.
Try finding the right time to go to bed and the right length of sleep. Experiment to determine the schedule that makes you wake up energized and refresh. When you get there, start going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, even during weekends. Such a schedule will optimize the quality of your sleep.
2) Light is the enemy of bedtime
Melatonin, the hormone that prepares our bodies for sleep is regulated by exposure to light. When it’s dark, the melatonin levels go up.
That’s why it’s important for you to get enough sunlight in the morning and during the day, so you won’t feel sleepy. At night, however, you should tone the lights down and avoid bright screens at least for an hour before you go to bed.
This means staying away from the TV, computer, tablet, or phone. When you go to bed, try to make sure the room is completely dark.
3) Detatch from your thoughts
Why can’t you fall asleep? For most people, it’s the mind that prevents relaxation. It keeps buzzing and it doesn’t leave you alone. There’s a simple technique you can practice. It will help you get detached from all thoughts that create the mess.
When you’re about to sleep, the thoughts about work bother you the most, but they are not the only intruders. Your mind can come up with all sorts of thoughts, some of them being pure fantasies. So you need to get detached from all of them.
Here’s the technique:
i) Go to bed. Try to mentally recreate the day, from the moment you got up to the moment you went to bed. You’ll go through all actions of the day in a chronological order, but you’ll be detached.
ii) You’ll observe the thoughts like you’re seeing a boring movie. Don’t try to rationalize or think what you should’ve been doing. Just recreate the day and stick to that specific task. This forces your mind to be rational.
iii) You give it a specific task, and it should be ready to sleep once it’s done with it. It takes a good deal of practice to see the results, but keep doing this every night. It’s worth the effort!
4) Have a bedtime ritual
Washing and flossing your teeth, having a warm bath, having a glass of wine, reading a good book… all these rituals prepare you for a good sleep. If you try to go bed immediately after being active and aroused, you’ll just toss around. You need a specific ritual that calms you down and gets you mentally prepared for the sleeping cycle.
Since we mentioned reading, let’s clarify one thing: it’s not recommended to read on a backlit device. Tone the lights down and read a paperback, or use an e-reader that’s not backlit.
5) Try valerian tea
Valerian root is an herb with a strange effect: it calms you down and makes you sleepy. It’s commonly used for sleep disorders, and you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to get it.
Research shows that this herb improves the quality of sleep without producing side effects, so it’s perfectly safe to consume. Needless to say, you should stick with minimal doses (one cup is enough!) just to stay on the safe side.
Most people sleep comfortably at a temperature of around 20℃ (or 70℉). Clearly, the optimal temperature depends on preference, so find out what your ideal level is. Then, make sure to heat or cool down the room to the appropriate temperature before you go to sleep.
Even when you have the perfect bedtime ritual, you go to bed at the right time, you have some tea and you do everything right, stress will prevent you from falling asleep.
It’s important to learn how to relax, so you can build your immunity against stress. The detachment technique we mentioned above works in that aspect, but you can do something else before going to bed, too: relaxation.
There are various relaxation techniques you may try, including breath awareness, mindfulness meditation, and body scan. It’s important to learn how to relax, so find a yoga or meditation course to attend. When you know how to do the technique, you may use it before bedtime.
Sleep plays a vital role in your physical, emotional, and mental health. When you’re not able to fall asleep, you’re getting really nervous and that state of mind continues throughout the day. To fight that situation, try the 7 tips we suggested above and see how they work!