Not being able to get a good night’s sleep is more than an annoyance; it negatively impacts physical and mental health. Worse, stressing out about not being able to sleep just makes it even harder. It’s a frustrating cycle many people get stuck in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults in the U.S. report not getting enough sleep.
But what can you do about it? As it turns out, there are quite a few things you can try. Listed here are the 16 actions to take if you can’t sleep, straight from sleep experts.
16 Things To Do When You Can’t Sleep
1. Incorporate journaling into your evening routine
Dr. Abhinav Singh, MD, FAASM, the medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center and a medical review expert at SleepFoundation.org, says that one major reason why people have trouble sleeping is that they’re stressed or worried about something. “The mind is busy and thinking of things causes a delay in initiation of sleep,” he says.
This is why he emphasizes that having a wind-down routine is key. One helpful activity to incorporate into it that he suggests is journaling. This gives you an opportunity to process your emotions and problem-solve so that you aren’t kept up trying to sort out your thoughts after the lights go out.
2. Plan out the next day
Have you ever started brushing your teeth and getting your PJs on only to find your mind jumping ahead to everything you have to do when you wake up? Dr. Singh says that making your to-do list and planning ahead for the next day can help prevent you from lying awake at night trying to figure out how you’re going to get it all done. Once your list is made, you’ll have an action plan of exactly when you’ll tackle everything you want to get done.
3. Listen to a bedtime story
One study of people who used the meditation app Calm for 90 days showed that people with sleep disturbances who used the app benefitted from the app’s Sleep Stories feature, in which a narrator shares a soothing story, such as about waterfalls. Listening to these sedative stories helped them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
4. Have a small snack
Dr. Singh says that a pre-bedtime nibble can help contribute to a good night’s sleep, but the key is keeping it light and ensuring that there’s a balance of protein and carbs. One example of this is a slice of turkey and a hard-boiled egg. The tryptophan in the turkey and the melatonin in the egg are both sleep-promoting nutrients.
5. Take a warm shower
This is something else Dr. Singh says can be a good habit to integrate into your evening routine if you have trouble sleeping. It’s a way to help muscles relax, priming the body for bedtime while also serving as a way to destress.
6. Slather on some lavender lotion
Extend the sleep-inducing benefits of your hot shower by applying some lavender lotion afterward. The scent is linked to better sleep. Lavender helps calm the central nervous system, which is exactly what you want when you’re winding down in the evening.
7. Stretch or do some gentle yoga
Sleep medicine doctor Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, MD emphasizes the importance of taking time to relax at the end of the day—especially if you work from home and the boundaries between work and home are blurred. She says that stretching or yoga is one way to help relax both the body and mind. Scientific studies have found that yoga is correlated with increased time spent in both REM sleep and non-REM sleep.
8. Don’t let your work email be the last thing you look at before going to sleep
Many people sleep with their phone right on their nightstand and their email is the first thing they look at when they wake up and the last thing they look at before they go to bed. A word of advice from the sleep experts: Don’t be this person. “[It’s important to] establish firm boundaries [between] our work and our personal lives,” Dr. Afolabi-Brown says. You don’t want to be in bed with your boss, right? Then put work out of your mind—including your emails—before you start your wind-down routine.
9. Dim the lights
“Think of your bedroom as a cozy cave,” Dr. Afolabi-Brown says. Dr. Singh also says that, ideally, your room will be dark when you’re ready to head to bed. “Dim the lights two to three hours prior to bedtime. Yellow lighting is more ideal than white lighting,” he says. Just like the setting sun, dim lighting inside the home signals to the brain that it’s time to power down and get ready to rest.
10. Put your screen away
You knew this one was coming, right? When you’re dimming the lights, both sleep experts say that this includes screens too—including your phone, tablet or computer. The light from these devices has been shown to interfere with circadian rhythm, leading to sleep problems.
11. Adjust your thermostat
According to Dr. Afolabi-Brown, the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60? and 72?. You want it to be cool enough that you are able to sleep comfortably under your bedding, but you don’t want it to be so cold that you find it distracting either. This is where the happy medium falls for most people.
12. Turn on a white noise machine
Besides a bedroom that’s nice and cool, Dr. Afolabi-Brown says that it’s ideally quiet too. If you’re a light sleeper or outside noise is inescapable, she recommends using a white noise machine. This will block out external noise and help create a soothing environment that’s ideal for sleep.
13. Get cozy
“Cotton or other breathable fabric for your bedding and nightwear helps to decrease sweating and discomfort from overheating,” Dr. Afolabi-Brown says. If you sleep hot, you definitely want to ditch the flannel and go for something lighter instead.
14. Point your clock away from you
Watching the minutes and hours pass by as you lie in bed still awake is only going to exacerbate your insomnia. As both sleep experts have emphasized, the key to managing sleep problems is eliminating stress, so if watching the clock is giving you anxiety, stop looking at it.
15. Get up
If you’ve been lying in bed for more than 30 minutes and are just as wide awake as you were initially, cognitive behavioral therapists recommend getting up and doing something else. Do something relaxing, such as reading or meditating, and when you start feeling sleepy, go to bed and try again.
16. Get help
“Don’t sleep on your sleep problems,” Dr. Singh says. “If you continue to have trouble falling and staying asleep despite the best efforts and it has been months, it is time to see a sleep specialist or at least bring it up with your primary care provider.”
It bears repeating that not being able to get consistent, good sleep impacts both physical and mental health. Working with a sleep specialist can help you pinpoint the reasons for your sleep problems and offer solutions that can help. Dr. Afolabi-Brown adds that a sleep specialist can also help determine if you have an underlying health condition that could be a reason for your sleeplessness. “You don’t have to struggle with sleep,” Dr. Afolabi-Brown says. Seek help and sleep well.
Original Source : https://parade.com/health/what-to-do-when-you-cant-sleep