t’s the end of a long day and you’re done with work, the dishes, and watching the latest Netflix special. You get ready for bed, turn off the lights and find yourself unable to drift off. The next hours are filled with tossing and turning and endless frustration because why can’t you just fall asleep?
If this sounds familiar, then you are probably someone struggling with insomnia. Not getting enough sleep is terrible in any context, but it’s especially terrible when it's continuous with seemingly no cause. The good news for you is that there are plenty of ways to sleep like a baby as an adult. Natural remedies, changing your environment, and simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in your quality of sleep. But, if you think your lack of sleep might have a deeper underlying health issue, it is best to seek the advice of your medical doctor for specialized help.
Make sure to read on for the best tips to help you get some much-needed shut-eye.
Changing your environment
One of the first pieces of advice that medical providers will give in an effort to help you get better sleep is to create a restful and relaxing environment for yourself. Studies show that adults sleep better in chillier environments. While keeping your bedroom at a crisp 60 degrees certainly isn’t necessary, warming up the bedroom too much might be detrimental to your ability to get some zzz’s. A happy medium between chilly and comfortable might be between 65 and 70 degrees. These temperatures are moderate enough for most to avoid freezing during the night while also making sure you don’t get too warm underneath your comforter either.
Another big factor in determining sleep quality is comfort. It may seem like a good idea to skimp on the memory foam mattress in favor of a cheaper one, but investing in your sleep is the same as investing in your health. You probably splurge on fresh vegetables once in a while (or at least you should) for health reasons, and you should do the same for your quality of sleep.
Having a comfortable mattress can help you combat common ailments like spinal pain that can impact your quality of sleep. But buying a nice mattress might not be doable for people who don’t have much cash to spare. In this case, it’s worth purchasing a mattress pad to place on your existing mattress. Mattress pads are typically a quarter of the cost of a full mattress and can often provide the same results healthwise as a regular mattress can.
But that’s not all! A mattress isn’t the only thing that impacts your sleep. Your sheets, blankets, and pillows do, too. If you’re trying to stay cool, try to avoid Jersey sheets or flannel sheets, which are designed to retain heat during the winter. Instead, consider opting for linen sheets that help promote airflow while you’re sleeping. Another benefit of linen sheets is that they get softer with each cycle in the washing machine which means extra comfort for you.
As for pillows, there are a lot of options. However, a good rule of thumb is to choose pillows based on your preferred sleeping position. Side sleeper? Opt for a firmer pillow to help support your spine. Stomach sleeper? Try a softer pillow so that your head is more aligned with your body. The more you make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, the better chances you’ll have of actually getting good sleep.
Similarly, using a comfortable sleep apnea mouthpiece can also make a significant difference in your sleep quality and can help reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
This is typically the piece of advice that gets the most eye-rolls. Everyone knows that you should be using your phone, tablet, or TV less, but how many of us actually do it? Not as many people as there should be. But everyone, and we really do mean everyone, should use their phone less at night, if at all. Especially before going to bed.
In addition to the harmful effects of blue light on our circadian rhythm, having access to your phone and all the mental stimulation that comes with it can impede our ability to relax. The last thing you want before going to bed is to get more anxious, so do yourself a favor and put your phone down in a room far, far away from where you lay your head each night.
You’ll likely sleep like a baby because of it.
Introducing healthier practices
A big part of sleep has to do with your environment, but the way you treat your body also plays an important role in getting enough rest each night. Introducing healthier practices into your routines such as mindfulness and exercise might help you fall asleep as quickly as you did when you were a child. Because, who doesn’t want to sleep like a baby as an adult?
Meditation or mindfulness practices are phenomenal ways to include a bit more peace into what is probably a hectic lifestyle. Mindfulness in particular has the potential to be as effective as prescription anxiety medication for some people who engage with the practice. This is likely because mindfulness encourages you to be well, mindful of your body and its surroundings. It’s hard to feel terribly anxious when all there is to think about is your breath going in and out and in and out.
Doing mindfulness exercises might help you relax at the end of a wild day before you go to sleep. To implement this into your life, try sitting with your thoughts briefly before bed prior to turning out the lamp. For no longer than two or three minutes just sit with yourself and see how you feel. Even a few short moments of focusing on your breath could have great benefits for your blood pressure and your overall sleep quality.
By now you’ve likely read a million and one articles about the benefits of exercise. And for good reason! Exercise is one of the most important ways that we can help ourselves be healthy and fit for the duration of our lifetime.
But exercise also has another important element to it: it can make us very, very tired. Even if you only strive to meet the recommended exercise goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, you’ll still be doing yourself a big favor when it comes to your fitness and your sleep. Tiring yourself out during the day will leave your body with little to do each night besides fall right asleep.
Get out of bed if you’re not falling asleep
Now, this one might seem a bit counterintuitive at first glance. Getting out of bed? There is definitely no chance of you getting any sleep if you’re not under the covers, right?
Well, maybe not. If you have anxiety, staying in bed and letting your thoughts run all over the place when you know you should be sleeping might just keep you from ever getting any sleep.
Instead, if you’re feeling like anxious thoughts are trying to overrun your shut-eye, try getting up for twenty minutes and either read a book or stretch. This will help you take your brain off of all the scary things that might be holding you back from a perfect night’s sleep. When twenty minutes are up, try slowly making your way back into bed without any expectations. You might find it much easier to fall asleep.
Stretching is one of the most underrated but wonderful ways to move your body. But it’s not discussed nearly enough as it should be. All stretching is great for your body, but one move is especially good.
The forward fold is one of the best yoga poses out there for stress relief. This pose is so effective in calming your body and mind because in engaging in the movement, you are allowing your spinal cord to stretch, which makes room for increased circulation. This in turn sends signals to your brain that you are okay, relaxed, and calm.
Doing any stretch prior to bedtime will help ease your thoughts and your body, but if you have to do just one, make sure it’s the forward fold. Its benefits will quickly reveal themselves to you. When you’re relaxed, you’ll be that much closer to sleeping like a baby even as an adult.
Getting better sleep can be a long and arduous road. It can be frustrating, disheartening, and stressful. But there are practices you can introduce into your daily routine and your environment that will help ease the stress of not being able to sleep.