8 Simple Life Hacks to Help Lull You to Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Most of us have had a night or two of restlessness or a temporary bout of insomnia, and the consequences of that bad night are usually not fun.
We’re tired, we’re crabby and maybe we can’t seem to concentrate. The day ticks by slowly, and all we can think of is jumping back into our blankets.
But what do you do during those restless nights when sleep has become the ultimate, yet ultimately unreachable, goal? How can you get the body to rest easier?
If a sleepless night is keeping you awake, and you need to find ways to relax, here are eight simple life hacks to help lull you to sleep.
Cut the Caffeine
Using coffee to jumpstart your mornings and to kick you back into action during the 2 o’clock drowsies? We’ve all been there. Reaching for that cup of Joe seems like a no-brainer solution. After all, caffeine jolts you to life and may help you feel a bit more awake.
Caffeine, though, is a stimulant. The potency of this seemingly harmless drug is a bit more long-lasting than many of us assume. According to one study, that cup of dark roast could affect your sleep if you drink it within six hours of plopping into bed.
If you only drink your coffee, tea, energy drink or soda in the morning, though, you should be ok. Just don’t reach for any caffeine in the late afternoon!
Remember, caffeine can also be found in certain foods—like chocolate. So be cautious of your snacks, too.
Cue up a Lullaby
Music may help you fall asleep. Although, soothing lullabies won’t work for everyone. Some may find the noise distracting, so play this solution by ear.
What type of music should you choose? According to the National Sleep Foundation, choose songs that ring in at 60-80 beats per minute.
While the beats per minute may influence sleep, some people just like any music. Maybe you love falling asleep to a classic rock or R&B station.
You may discover that music distracts you from sleep. If you’re listening to your playlist and it makes your mind race or causes too much mental distraction, then turn off those tunes. Music can help you sleep, but it could also keep you awake.
Relaxation techniques could help you in calming your mind before bed. Nestmaven offers many meditation videos aimed to help you sleep.
But does it really work?
Writing for Harvard Health Blog, Julie Corliss cited a study that looked at the correlation between meditation and sleep. The takeaway from the study was that meditation did help participants sleep better.
The researchers concluded: “Formalized mindfulness-based interventions have clinical importance by possibly serving to remediate sleep problems among older adults in the short term, and this effect appears to carry over into reducing sleep-related daytime impairment that has implications for quality of life.”
Meditation techniques can vary. There are many free videos and tutorials available online to help guide the meditation process. However, you could incorporate prayers or just focus on deep breathing exercises.
While meditation classes may be available, you shouldn’t stress about spending money on relaxation! Again, there are many online resources about meditation, and you could head to your local library to check out books on meditation and relaxation.
If you have children, did you ever notice how quickly they crash after a long day at the pool or a park? All that outdoor air and exercise can wear down the body and help prepare it for sleep.
Everyone needs physical activity. Children need about an hour of activity each day. Adults, however, need about 2.5 hours of “moderate intensity aerobic physical activity” each week (so a little less).
To meet the activity requirements, adults should aim for about 30 minutes each day of exercise. This could mean a morning walk with the family pet, a bike ride or maybe even a light swim session.
Regardless, these recommendations aren’t hard to meet. Getting enough exercise may help you fall asleep each night.
However, there is a caveat to the workout recommendations. Some people may have difficulty falling asleep if they work out too late in the evening. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you notice that a late night exercise session is keeping you awake, you may need to switch to morning sessions.
Skip the Liquids before Bed
Alcohol, caffeine and even water can all take a toll on our sleep—for different reasons. However, in liquid form, all these beverages can have us running to the bathroom more often during the night.
Don’t guzzle any beverage before bed. Instead, cut off water and other liquids a few hours prior to hitting the sheets.
While bathroom breaks can wake us up, those late night trips can make falling back asleep more difficult. We’ve all had nights where something wakes us up, and then we begin to ruminate on the day’s events or focus on other worries.
When our sleep is disrupted, those seemingly minor midnight wake-up calls could lead to other issues–like lying awake worrying–that make falling back asleep a problem!
Smell Your Way to Sleep
Our senses are powerful. And certain scents can be linked to our memories. Maybe the smell of cookies baking in the oven makes you think of childhood holidays. Tropical scents of sunscreen can bring back trips to the beach or the pool. Even a particular perfume can be linked to a time in our past.
And scents may even help us fall asleep. According to The Sleep Doctor, certain fragrances like lavender, sandalwood, vanilla and jasmine may help calm the body and aid in sleep.
Lavender oil was even used in a study to test its effectiveness on sleep. The study noted: “Lavender essential oil increased quality of sleep and reduced level of anxiety in patients with coronary artery disease.”
Adding a few drops of lavender oil to a pillow may help you rest easier. You can try adding lavender oil (or another calming scent) to a nighttime bath.
There are, however, scents that may keep you awake. So what oils and scents should you avoid? Don’t use potent scents like eucalyptus, citrus, peppermint, and rosemary.
Start a Nighttime Routine
Bedtime routines aren’t just for babies and toddlers! Your body may appreciate a nighttime routine that sets the tone for sleep.
If you really want to ensure that you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep, set a time to go to bed. This means no more late-night television binging or distractions. When you set a bedtime, you need to stick to it—just like you would with a child.
Your nightly routine may begin a few hours before you lay your head on the pillow. Each individual may have a unique schedule before bed that could include meditation, journaling or maybe even a beauty routine.
Allow your body time to unwind and be sure to build in enough time to actually fall asleep. Don’t assume that once you lay down, your body will naturally drift off. Sometimes we need a few minutes to relax, or we may need an hour.
Remember to avoid screen time a few hours before bed. The blue light from tablets, phones and other screens can interfere with your body’s natural rhythm. Shut off the screens before bed, and grab a book instead.
If you absolutely cannot resist email or web surfing, invest in a pair of blue light glasses. These filter out blue light so you can enjoy screen time without the sleep consequences.
Before you head to bed, you may want to adjust your thermostat. A room that’s too hot or cold will leave you tossing and turning. You can use a fan to cool off your room and add a little soothing ambient noise—many people use fans for the noise.
Maintain Your Mattress
Where you sleep can affect how you sleep. If you want to sleep better, then you need to maintain your sleep oasis. Your mattress can be a sleep savior…or your biggest nightmare.
Your mattress should provide correct support and it should be comfortable. When you’re waking up sore or stiff, this could indicate that your mattress has worn out.
A mattress does not last forever. Ideally, you should replace it after a decade (or sooner). Buying a new mattress, though, means maintaining the purchase.
Never allow kids to jump on a mattress and don’t place heavy objects (like weights) on memory foam mattresses. Using an electric blanket? Don’t set it to a very high temperature, as the heat could ruin memory foam. You should use a mattress protector so that stains or spills don’t ruin the mattress.
The mattress you choose should provide enough space to move during the night. If you share your bed with a partner, choose a mattress size that easily accommodates both bodies. Cramped quarters aren’t comfortable!
Most adults should be sleeping at least seven hours each night. Unfortunately, trying to fall asleep after a long day can cause even more anxiety. When your mind can’t rest, try a few relaxing techniques. Music, aromatherapy, meditation and setting a sleep routine can help lull the body into sweet dreams. Cutting out caffeine and liquids and changing a workout routine can help calm the body. And where you sleep also matters. Invest in a good mattress, and replace your old one after a decade for the sweetest dreams.
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