You know the feeling: You can barely keep your eyes open and even start dozing watching your favorite show, but as soon as you lay down in bed, you suddenly can’t fall asleep. Some nights you can toss and turn as much as you want to no avail. Even reading a book or turning on the TV for “background noise” doesn’t help. Fortunately, there are some other things you can try. Even better, these tricks are backed by scientists and sleep experts. Here’s what to do if you can’t seem to shut your mind down and fall asleep.
Because screens and smartphones are still relatively new inventions, our bodies aren’t equipped to handle bright electronic screens. They disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps it know when it’s time to go to sleep. To counteract this, you can ensure your bedroom is dark when it’s time to go to sleep. Experts recommend turning your phone and TV off at least 30 minutes before you shut your eyes.
Waking up and going to sleep around the same time each day helps your body keep a schedule. Build that 30 minutes of winding-down time into your schedule, too. Not only does this help your body get ready to sleep, but it helps your mind, too. For adults, experts recommend getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Keeping that time regular helps your body adjust and know when it’s time to fall asleep.
Before you even lay down, you can also adjust your thermostat. The outside temperature and your body temperature naturally dip at night. Your body temperature even stays lower until a little before you wake up. Sleeping in a cold room can help you fall asleep faster. If you really struggle with falling asleep, try taking a hot shower or a warm bath before hitting the hay. This can really make you feel the temperature drop and fall asleep more easily.
Did you know that your breathing and your nervous system are connected? When you feel excited or anxious, your breathing and heart rate speed up. On the other hand, a slower heart rate and deep, slow breaths are signs of relaxation. Sometimes you can trick your body into relaxing just by focusing on your breathing. Try this trick: Breathe in for four counts, hold it for seven, and exhale slowly for eight counts.
Not all lights will keep you up all night. Metronome lights can help you block out overactive, intrusive thoughts and lull you to sleep. Focusing on the light instead of your thoughts helps your mind relax more quickly, and guided breathing features slow your heart rate and get it ready for sleep. Long cycles can help people who have a lot of trouble falling asleep. Short cycles can help people who don’t have much trouble sleeping.