There’s almost nothing worse than lying awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. You know the feeling—tossing and turning, trying to hold perfectly still in the hopes that you’ll drift off, staring at the ceiling, counting imaginary sheep until you reach over 1,000, lose count, and have to start all over again.
Sometimes there’s no stopping nights like these. You just have to let them come and deal with them when they do. Other times, how you get ready for bed can make all the difference in avoiding sleepless nights.
How to get ready for bed isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. What is vitally important, however, is that you do have some sort of routine, even if it’s just a list of things to do before bed.
How do you get ready for bed? Do you have a regular, nightly routine? If so, the following suggestions could be a good way to amp up that routine, especially if you’re noticing you haven’t been sleeping great lately. If you don’t have a nightly routine, consider trying out the following suggestions. You might just find that they make those sleepless, restless nights diminish—or even completely disappear.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider making a bedtime routine chart to keep track of the things you do, the things you don’t do, and the things you’d like to start doing each night before bed.
Don’t get on your phone or watch TV right before going to bed. The light from these electronic devices is designed to keep you awake and watching. This can trigger your brain and make it think you need to be awake when it’s really time to catch some Zs—making it harder to fall asleep.
If you’re having difficulty figuring out how to wind down at night, think about taking a hot bath or shower right before bed. Soaking in warm water (or letting it wash over you) can help your muscles relax and unwind. Try to go to bed directly after. You’re more relaxed coming out of a hot bath or shower. Wait too long and the effects will wear off.
Sometimes we have to train our bodies to get used to regular sleeping cycles. So when it’s time to go to sleep, close your blinds, draw your curtains, wear a sleeping mask if you have to. The darker you keep your sleeping environment, the more likely your body is to relax and shut down so you can sleep.
When it’s time to go to bed, actually do it. Don’t lay in bed watching television or playing games on your phone. Put your phone far away from you, across your room. If you have to have it close for whatever reason, you can put it on the Do Not Disturb setting so you won’t get notifications for emails or texts. Your body needs to learn that when you get in bed, it’s time to sleep, not to eat or read or play games. The sooner you establish this habit, the easier time you’ll have falling asleep.
This goes hand in hand with the concept of establishing regular, consistent habits as you get ready for bed. Our bodies need regulation and consistency. If you go to bed at random times of the night each week, it robs your body of the chance to establish a habit and get used to a routine. Try going to bed the same time each night and see if you notice a difference in how you sleep.
Go outside and enjoy the daytime when it’s actually daytime. This will also help in teaching your body to be awake when the sun is up and ready to go to sleep when the sun goes down.
Whether you’re religious or not, meditation, prayer, or deep breathing for even just a few minutes can really help calm your body and mind down before going to sleep.
Many people lead sedentary lives today, which doesn’t help when trying to establish regular sleeping habits, because more often than not the body isn’t physically tired. Doing some sort of workout during the day can really help. It will not only make you feel physically healthier and better, but it will also help tire your body out so you’ll get a good night’s sleep.