What to Do When You Can’t Sleep
You’re lying in bed watching the minutes tick by. One hour passes, then another — now it’s a countdown to your wakeup call. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, you’re part of a large group of people who has trouble sleeping. Do you know what to do when you can’t sleep, or do you just trudge through the next day on only an hour or two?
Losing sleep is a vicious cycle. The less sleep you get, the more panicked you become about the prospect of dealing with a full workday tomorrow, and that heightens your anxiety. That’s why it’s important to know what to do when you can’t sleep, so you still manage to get a full eight hours. Here are six tips to help you get some good shut-eye.
1. Breathe Deeply
If you have no idea what to do when you can’t sleep, start small. Enlist some classic breathing techniques to help slow down your nervous system and quiet your mind when it’s bedtime. One popular method is the 4-7-8 technique. Begin by sitting up and sticking the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth. Then slowly inhale to the count of four. Hold the breath for seven counts, then exhale for eight. Repeat four times and then snooze.
2. Take Melatonin
If this holistic approach doesn’t have much of an effect, here’s another natural option: Try a low dosage of melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical your body naturally produces to make you sleepy, and it now comes in pill form to give your body a boost. Look for a pill that provides the lowest dosage of melatonin possible. About 0.3 milligrams is ideal, or 1 milligram, if you can’t find a dosage that low. Any higher, and it could mess with your body’s melatonin production.
3. Enjoy a Warm Shower
Do you sleep more soundly in a cooler room? There’s some science behind that. Your body’s natural clock knows cooler temperatures mean nighttime. But if your internal clock isn’t picking up on this cue, taking a warm shower before bed could help. When you go from the warm water to cooler air, your internal temp drops. This sudden chill tells your body it’s time to get some shut-eye. A warm bath will work wonders, too, if you prefer it.
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4. Draw the Blinds
Did you know lack of sleep contributes to weight gain? That’s yet another reason to snooze enough each evening. One way you can signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep is to darken your room. If you routinely have issues falling asleep, invest in high-quality blackout curtains that will completely eliminate any ambient light from the outdoors. These should help your internal clock reset and get your body ready to wind down after a long day.
5. Hide the Clocks
Whether you have an old-school alarm clock, or you use the alarm function on your phone, it’s important to blot out this source of light, too. Put your phone on “do not disturb” mode and cover any electronic clocks before you go to bed. This will boost the darkness factor of your room and prevent you from worrying over what time it is when you can’t sleep. Bonus points if you put your phone across the room — which forces you to get right out of bed at the alarm.
6. Diffuse Lavender
Another tried-and-true way to get into the sleepy-time spirit? Just add lavender. Traditional medicine has long used this potent herbal remedy to soothe those having a hard time falling asleep or struggling with stress and anxiety. Pick up lavender in essential oil form and disperse the scent throughout your bedroom using a diffuser. Alternatively, you can put a few drops on your pillowcase or sip on an herbal tea that contains a blend of chamomile and lavender.
With these tips in mind, you’ll never have to fear insomnia again. Stock up on lavender, hide the clocks and try any of these other tips. Before long, your sleep schedule will be back on track!
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