There, I said it.
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. I don’t even know what “sleeping like a baby” really feels like. Not only do I find it difficult to fall asleep, I also find it difficult to stay asleep.
I’ve always wondered how people could fall asleep so fast. My father, for instance, falls asleep when his head hits the pillow. Well, I think he’s lucky. It takes me at least 20 minutes every single night to get my racing mind to bed.
Suffering from insomnia is ugly. Suffering from chronic insomnia is terrible. I don’t know the secret to a good night’s sleep, but I do know some tricks that have been working well for me.
I’ve been observing my sleeping habits for the past couple of years, and I’ve taken note of what seems to help me fall asleep. I still don’t know what “sleeping like a baby” means, and I still toss and turn many times before closing my eyes, but I know at least some ways now that have transformed my nights from “bad” to “fair.”
I hope these 10 tricks will help you too:
1. Stop stimulating activities before going to bed. What are the activities that affect your quality of sleep? I noticed that getting the door or seeing who is calling/messaging me on my phone significantly disrupts my sleep. My husband knows that leaving the bed to open the door could negatively affect my sleep, so he always answers the door when I go to bed. I also put my phone on silent mode because a one-second vibration could keep me awake for the rest of the night.
2. Create the ambience that helps you sleep better. Think in terms of setups. Your bedroom is a stage, and you need to organize it in a way that satisfies both your body and mind. In my case, total darkness has always been my worst enemy. I need to be exposed to a tad bit of light in order to sleep peacefully. I also make sure I have my two small pillows at hand. Hugging a pillow helps my sleep by…well, let’s say 80 percent. You could be the total opposite of me, so do what helps you get into dreamland faster.
3. Put your worries aside when you go to bed. In the past, bedtime for me was “evaluation time.” I’d assess my day, solve my problems, and overthink until my brain literally hurt. If pillows understand thoughts, mine would have hated me. When I realized how much my overthinking was hurting my sleep, I decided to dedicate a specific time for my thoughts other than nighttime. Whenever I catch myself thinking while I’m in bed, I tell myself that the problem can wait, and I’ll give it the attention it needs tomorrow.
4. Choose a comfortable sleeping position (and comfortable props). Being unable to sleep is so frustrating, but the good news is there’s always one sleeping position that your body favors. Observe your body and try different sleeping positions until your body responds to one. For me, sleeping on my back helps me fall asleep faster. Also, make sure that your pillow, mattress, and bed sheets are comfortable.
5. Deplete your energy reserves. It could be just me, but I’ve noticed that when I’m physically tired, I always sleep better and faster. So I play with the dogs, I cook, I walk, I exercise—anything to empty the stored energy within me because it is considerably linked to my quality of sleep.
6. Cut off caffeine at night. I’m an avid tea and Turkish coffee drinker. I used to drink a lot of tea at night, especially before going to bed. Little did I know that caffeine was reducing my quality of sleep and stopping me from enjoying a good night’s sleep. It’s been more than four years now that I don’t consume any kind of caffeine at night. I drink herbal tea as an alternative, especially marjoram because it is a natural muscle relaxer.
7. Don’t nap during the day. If you suffer from chronic insomnia like I do, don’t. Nap. During. The. Day. No matter how tired or exhausted I get, I don’t let myself sleep in bright daylight.
8. Reserve your bed for sleeping. Leave the bed if you’re not able to sleep. Trust me on this. Whenever I feel that my body is not ready to fall asleep, I go back to the living room and retrieve my night. Staying in bed and pushing ourselves to sleep only exhausts us more.
9. Be mindful of what you do when you wake up at night. Insomnia doesn’t only mean having difficulty sleeping. It also means having difficulty staying asleep. I stopped doing the things that could keep me awake or make me get up. For example, I go to the toilet before going to bed so I wouldn’t have to get up at night. I also keep my phone away from me.
10. Practice exercises that promote your sleep. It took me so many years to know what makes my body tick. You could try breathing exercises, reciting mantras, or any other exercise that helps put your body to rest. Surprisingly, mine has been gratitude exercises. When I close my eyes, I count all the things I’m grateful for in my life. Most of the time, I fall asleep while counting them.
That’s about it! What helps you sleep? Share in the comments section.