Insomnia has never been a bigger problem than it is today. People are working more and sleeping less, which makes them even more stressed out about falling and staying asleep.
Of course, stressing about falling asleep is about the least helpful thing you can do. To get into a good sleep schedule, you need to be consistent, relaxed, and on a schedule. Here are four essential things to do to develop a great sleep routine.
1. Avoid tablets, phones, and TV screens for at least one hour before your bedtime.
Checking your email one last time before bed is always tempting, but it has a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep. The specific reasons for this are complicated, but they’ve been studied and proven.
First, the light from the screen can disrupt melatonin production in your brain. That’s the hormone that helps you drift off to sleep. Being in the dark or low-light helps jumpstart this helpful chemical.
Second, the simple act of reading a text or email can get your brain buzzing. It’s hard to simply read a message and shut off your brain. Most of the time, reading a text is just the beginning of a long thought process. Instead of checking texts right before bed, set a time for last call and stick to it.
2. Don’t check what time it is if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Everyone tends to check the clock when they wake up in the middle of the night. Don’t. That simple act can cause anxiety about how quickly you need to fall back asleep in order to get a full sleep cycle or two.
Instead, try to breathe deeply and relax. Your alarm will let you know when it’s time to get up. Until then, your only job is snoozing.
3. Don’t get up to pee in the middle of the night.
Even the act of sitting up in bed is enough to increase your heart rate and pull you out of a sleepy state. When you’re battling insomnia, you want to do everything you can to help your body stay in a relaxed state that is conducive to sleep.
Unless you really can’t hold your bladder until morning, don’t go to relieve yourself in the middle of the night. The combination of walking and turning on the lights will make you more alert and less likely to fall back asleep.
4. Don’t wake up your partner.
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often insomniacs try to get a little company in the wee hours of the night. Waking your partner obviously disrupts their sleep cycle, but it also makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Once you start talking, your brain will wake itself up. Even if you only exchange a few words, it can be difficult to calm your brain back down.
Trying to get a good night’s sleep is a bit paradoxical. The harder you try, the harder it is to relax. That’s why it’s important to follow routines and relax instead of trying your hardest. It may take some time to adjust, but if you follow the above advice, you’ll learn how to spend less time tossing and turning and more time snoozing.