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I’ve struggled with occasional insomnia for years, but, fortunately, have found some strategies to help me cope with the madness. Some are conventional sleep wisdom and others are more along the lines of unconventional Melissa wisdom, but all of them help me fall asleep faster when my anxious mind and busy body are keeping me awake.
While I’m sharing these tips in hopes they can help you, too; please know I am not a doctor and my suggestions are not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are having frequent trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, definitely talk to your doctor.
1.) Drink Herbal Tea
This is a pretty common suggestion for people who have trouble sleeping, and for good reason! Natural herbs in tea, such as chamomile or valerian, can help you sleep. If I get the feeling it’s going to be a sleepless night, I’ll drink some herbal tea a few minutes before bedtime. I personally love Sleepytime Vanilla!
2.) Read a Book
Another thing I do, when I get the feeling insomnia is going to come knocking at my bedroom door, is read for 15-20 minutes before bed. I’ve talked about this before, but reading is one of the most relaxing things you can do, even more relaxing than drinking tea!
3.) Avoid Emails, Social Media and The News
Sleep experts argue for avoiding screens in general before bedtime, but, for some, that may seem too tall an order. So my tip, if avoiding screens altogether is too extreme for you, is to avoid the top three anxiety producers – email, social media and news stories – for at least one hour before your bedtime. Anxiety heavily contributes to insomnia, so limiting your exposure to its triggers will help you catch more zzz’s with ease.
4.) Blink 100 Times Fast
I came across this tip years ago and just had to give it a try. Simply blink as fast as you can 100 times and you’ll be asleep in no time! The reason: it makes your eyes physically tired. I do this all the time when I’m feeling restless and it almost always helps me fall asleep faster.
5.) Get Out of Bed
Sometimes we need to hit the reset button on bedtime. If you just can’t sleep, get out of bed for a few minutes. Grab a glass of water, use the restroom, wash your face with a warm washcloth – anything simple and non-taxing to reset your brain for 3-5 minutes – then hop back in bed.
6.) Listen to a Guided Meditation
There are plenty of guided meditation apps on the market these days, some are specificly designed to help you sleep, and many of them are free. A few of my personal favorites are Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson and Stop, Breathe & Think.
7.) Utilize Lavender
I will sometimes use a lavender scented wax melt in my wax warmer to help promote tranquil rest. The scent of lavender is calming and helps me relax. If you don’t have a wax warmer, you could try a lavender pillow spray or apply a lavender essential oil to your skin. (For safety, I do not recommend using candles while you sleep.)
8.) Count Your Breaths
There are many different ways you can count your breaths, so experiment and find what works for you. Some people tout the 4-7-8 method, while I prefer counting the inhale as one breath and the exhale as another breath. For example, inhale…1…exhale…2…inhale…3…exhale…4…and so on. The point is not the technique so much as it is removing your focus from your chattering mind and placing it onto your breath.
9.) Don’t Look at the Time
This is so important! If you are having trouble falling asleep, checking the time will only make it worse. The more you look at the time when you are trying to fall asleep, the more anxious you will be about how late it’s getting and how you have to be up in exactly 5.3 hours. It’s best to ignore the clock and focus on quieting your mind and relaxing your body instead.
10.) Remove or Add Covers
At night, comfort is king! If you’re feeling restless, try experimenting with more or less covers and see if that helps. I’ve found I prefer sleeping with heavy blankets at night for both the warmth and weight. In fact, weighted blankets have been shown to decrease anxiety, helping you fall asleep faster.
11.) Say Prayers of Gratitude
This is similar to breathing, in that it wrangles your runaway mind, which is often anxious and negative, and focuses it on the positive, calming aspects of your life. If the word “prayer” doesn’t settle well with you, consider this a simple gratitude practice. Simply and quietly thank God, the universe, yourself – who or whatever! – for the good things in your life.
12.) Pretend Dream
I’ve been doing this since I was a child and it not only helps me fall asleep, but it also keeps my imagination active. It may sound weird, but it’s actually fun and really does help with insomnia. My favorite way to pretend dream is to close my eyes and imagine myself as my own character in one of my favorite movies or TV shows, then I’ll play out a scene in my mind as if I was actually there. Usually, I don’t even get through a full scene before I’m fast asleep.
These twelve tips are truly night-savers for me, but I’d love to hear from you! What helps you fall asleep faster? Feel free to comment below with your own sleep wisdom, and be sure to share this post if it was helpful to you.