Sleep eludes me. For as long as I can recall, I've had sleep issues, and it became even worse when I had children. It wasn't their fault; they were good sleepers, but I guess something changed in me that made me sleep less. My doctor has tried to push various sleeping pills over the years, from pills once prescribed as old anti-depressants to Ambien, which gave me the weirdest sensation of being in a perpetual dreamlike state where I didn't feel like I'd slept at all. On googling Ambien, you can find some horrific stories, such as people hallucinating, going into zombie-like states, not recalling what they did the next day and more.
Needless to say, I never took it again. Therefore, I was highly interested in what people had to say on this popular internet forum about their tips and tricks for falling asleep. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to try some of these!
1. Pick a Category
One forum member says that they heard if you pick a category such as ‘desserts,' for example, and go through and name a dessert from every letter of the alphabet; it apparently helps your mind stop racing. I'm not sure — I think I'd get stuck on a letter like ‘k' and start googling desserts that start with it!
2. Watch Bob Ross
Artist Bob Ross was famous for his Joy of Painting TV series that aired during the 80s. He went through the steps he used to paint particular scenes in a relaxed manner. One person says they play his videos and can't make it past 20 minutes without nodding off.
3. Get Into a Routine
As a contributor says, getting into a routine helps let your body know that it's time to go to sleep. They suggest this won't happen overnight and that you must train your body to recognize the routine.
4. Turn Your Brain Off
One individual claimed they can turn their brain off and just fall asleep. I applaud any individual who can do this willingly. For many of us, that's a challenging task.
5. Army Method
This method requires a few steps. Begin by consciously relaxing your entire face, including the muscles inside your mouth. Let your hands rest at your side, and release tension from your shoulders — exhale and release tightness from your chest and then from your thighs and calves. Close your eyes and clear your mind by thinking of a calming scene like a gently lapping ocean. If this doesn't work, repeat the phrase “don't think” repeatedly.
Somebody said that we let negative thoughts weigh us down, affecting sleep. One suggestion was to allot a particular time for worry; another was to write in a gratitude journal before sleep.
While some people need absolute silence to sleep, others like having voices chat about a subject. This one wouldn't work for me; I'd probably be too engaged in whatever the topic was — unless it was incredibly tedious.
8. Build a Dream House
This involves lying down and imagining you building and fitting a house. The person who made this suggests that you need to get as detailed as possible — even down to the materials that are holding furniture together.
9. Remove The Phone
Many of us sleep with our phones nearby, and the temptation to grab them and doom scroll has affected our sleep. Having your phone on the other side of the room so that you're not tempted to reach for it can help.
10. Shower Before Bedtime
I personally find showers very refreshing and like having them to start my day, but some people say it also helps when winding down for the night. One forum member says it raises your body temperature and then drops it back to normal afterward; this sends a message to your brain to sleep.
11. The Right Pillow
One thing I dislike about travel is getting a hotel that has a pillow that's too high. Everyone has their pillow preferences, and having the right one can make sleep easier.
One insomniac finds that diaphragmatic breathing really helps. Apparently, it stimulates the vagus nerve — the nerve system that controls digestion and heart rate — stimulating sleep. To do this, you place a hand on your chest and stomach, inhale through your nose for about four seconds, feel your abdomen expand, hold for two seconds, exhale slowly for about six seconds, and then repeat for several minutes.
13. Do The Math
Several forum members find that doing math in their heads when trying to sleep helps them catch the Zs. One suggests doing it in a slow rhythmic chant, such as saying “one plus one equals two and two plus two equals four” very slowly in your head.
Meditation naturally induces a decrease in your heart rate and a reduction in the presence of the stress hormone cortisol within your body. These effects parallel what occurs during sleep. According to studies, meditation can lead to the generation of theta brainwaves, mirroring the brain's state while falling asleep.
According to the CDC, our body's circadian rhythm reacts to light. If it's too bright in your bedroom, this may not create the right sleep environment. It's also recommended that you avoid bright light exposure within the two hours leading to bedtime.
16. White Noise
I like silence when I sleep, but my ears feel like they suddenly become a radar for picking up every single sound that happens in the house. If someone clears their throat in another room, I'm probably going to hear it. That's where things like white noise and rain sounds really help to drown those little things out. You don't need a fancy noise machine; there are plenty of apps and white noise tracks on Spotify.
Several forum members suggest that exercise has an effect on sleep. The Sleep Foundation agrees with this, saying that regular exercise — such as going for a daily walk for 30 minutes — will not only help you fall asleep faster but also increase sleep duration and quality.
18. No Blue Light
The sun is the biggest source of blue light; as mentioned previously, light affects the circadian rhythms that help you sleep. In our modern era, we've increased our blue light exposure as it's also produced by TV, computer monitors, and smartphones. Exposure to these decreases melatonin production, which helps you sleep.
19. Food Before Bed
Several people mentioned that you shouldn't eat shortly before bedtime, and some people won't eat after 6 p.m. However, the Sleep Foundation says there are benefits to having a bedtime snack. It can help avoid low blood sugar levels, and some snacks offer sleep-related advantages.
20. Melatonin Supplements
Some forum members suggest melatonin supplements. These come in a different range of doses but aren't for everyone. They're meant to replicate the melatonin production that you may not be getting naturally. However, they can make some people drowsy the next day, whereas others swear by them.
21. The Temperature
The temperature in your bedroom plays a crucial role in determining the quality of your sleep. Ideally, the best room temperature for optimal sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. While individual preferences may vary slightly, most medical experts advise setting the thermostat within the range of 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure a comfortably restful slumber. That makes sense when you think of hot summer nights when it's been difficult to sleep.
22. Focus on Body Parts
This requires you to focus and mentally attempt to relax individual body parts. This technique is sometimes used in meditation and is also part of the army method that was mentioned earlier. For example, you focus on your calves and imagine them getting heavy, relaxed, and sinking into the bed. You then move through the rest of your body, doing the same thing for each part.
23. Read Textbooks
A forum member suggests finding a subject that interests you and buying some educational books — if you don't own any already. They say that even though the subject is interesting, their brain can't handle more than 10 – 15 minutes of it before drifting off to sleep.
24. Magnesium Glycynate
You may have heard that magnesium plays a role in sleep and that supplements are helpful with getting some Zs; however, this particular form — Magnesium Glycynate has been shown to be easiest for the body to absorb. While the Sleep Foundation says that research on why magnesium works is unclear, some think it has something to do with muscle contraction and nervous system regulation.