Do you lie awake at night in frustration? If you can’t fall asleep quickly, find out how four lifestyle changes can help you get the rest you need.
You lie in bed desperately counting sheep, hoping sleep will come. When it doesn’t you watch the clock in frustration wondering how you’ll get through the coming day on so little sleep. If you can’t fall asleep quickly, you’re not alone. Almost half of the U.S. population is affected by insomnia, being more common in women than men. In the majority of people, the inability to fall asleep quickly stems from poor sleep habits that can usually be corrected once they’re identified and changed. Here are some of the reasons you may not be able to fall asleep quickly and what you can do about them.
You don’t have a regular sleep schedule
If you’re burning the midnight oil at night and going to bed at irregular hours, you’re setting yourself up for sleep problems. The key to falling asleep quickly is to train your body to recognize when it’s time to shut down. This is best done by establishing a set time to go to bed and wake up and then sticking with it. One of the most common days for people to experience insomnia is on Sunday night after they’ve changed their sleep schedule over the weekend. To fall asleep quickly, keep the same schedule every night even on weekends.
You’re too inactive during the day
Another reason you may not fall asleep quickly is that you’re not getting enough exercise during the day. An article published in the American Family Physician in 2007 states that regular exercise is as effective as benzodiazepine sleep medications for promoting healthy sleep. A thirty minute walk in the afternoon can help to encourage sleep by reducing stress levels. Avoid exercising too late in the day as this can boost your energy level and make sleep more difficult.
You’re consuming too much caffeine
Some people who can’t fall asleep quickly are guilty of drinking too many caffeinated beverages throughout the day. Reassess how much caffeine you’re taking in on a daily basis and commit to cutting back. Ideally, you should eliminate caffeine from your diet entirely, but if that isn’t possible, cut your intake in half and monitor your sleep patterns. If you still have problems falling asleep, cut it in half again until you find it easier to fall asleep quickly. Keep in mind that certain medications such as analgesics also contain caffeine. It’s particularly important to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening for obvious reasons. Instead of drinking a cup of coffee or tea at night, try a glass of warm milk which will relax you and make sleep easier.
You’re not preparing yourself properly
If you can’t fall asleep quickly, take the time to create a sleeping environment that’s relaxing and peaceful. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible to maximize levels of melatonin, the hormone your body produces to promote sleep. Freshen your bed by adding soft, comfortable sheets and blankets. Make sure the temperature is comfortable. A bedroom that’s too hot or cold is a common trigger for insomnia. If possible, take a warm bath with fragrant bath oil or bubble bath to promote relaxation. Even a warm foot soak will help to encourage sleep. Avoid doing stressful activities or working at your computer within an hour of going to bed. The bright lights from your computer screen can lower melatonin levels making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Of course, you’ll want to see your doctor if insomnia becomes a persistent problem. Sometimes insomnia can be indication of depression or another medical disorder. In most cases, insomnia can be resolved with simple lifestyle changes and you’ll soon regain the ability to fall asleep quickly.