Sleepless nights suck. Most specifically, the moment you realize it’s 3:30 a.m. and you’ve been lying awake just staring at the ceiling for the past five hours.
Luckily, I’ve got 11 techniques to help you quit worrying and get snoozing faster.
DIM THE LIGHTS
As bedtime nears, your body starts producing melatonin, a hormone that tells your body, Hey you, it’s time to sleep. But bright lights can interfere and trick your brain into thinking, Oops, it's not quite bedtime yet. So hit the dimmer switch (or better yet, turn off the lights you’re not using). It’s the fastest way to trigger hormone production and set the sleepy mood.
SWITCH OFF YOUR PHONE
Same rules apply: Save the Instagram scrolling for the morning and inflict a self-imposed technology ban for at least 60 minutes before bed. All electronic devices (yes, e-readers count) emit blue light--aka the anti-melatonin. Instead, pick up a paper copy of that book you’ve been dying to read or switch on the good old-fashioned TV (assuming you’re not sitting 25 centimeters from the screen, of course).
CHECK THE ROOM TEMPERATURE
The sweet spot for blissful slumber is a cool 18°C. Adjust your air conditioner accordingly.
COVER UP YOUR CLOCK
Come on, is there anything more taunting and stressful than constantly glancing over and seeing the sleepless minutes ticking by? Shield your eyes from the glow--and the pressure--by covering the clockface before you climb into bed.
IN FACT, COVER UP ALL AMBIENT LIGHT
It’s more than just your clock that’s keeping you up: It’s the glow of the cable box, your laptop charging or your phone constantly blinking on and off with alerts. These teeny-tiny interruptions impact your circadian rhythms and, in turn, the quality of your sleep.
TRY A BEDTIME ROUTINE
After a long and busy day, a calming routine helps your brain stop buzzing. Wash your face, put on a beauty mask or take a shower (studies show the steam causes your body temp to rise, then drop, triggering a sleepy feeling).
WEAR COMFY CLOTHES AND SOCKS
From the fabric to the fit, what you wear to bed matters. Opt for breathable fabrics (cotton in the summer; flannel in the winter) and a looser fit so you don’t overheat while you sleep. And if your feet feel cold, throw on a pair of socks--the extra layer helps improve circulation to your extremities, a common sleep complaint.
PICK A COLOR SCHEME THAT SOOTHES
Research shows that calming hues help trigger sleep by helping you relax. This means you should decorate your bedroom in neutral and muted tones versus loud and vibrant shades. Think periwinkle blue or lavender as opposed to sunshine yellow or bright pink.
ASSIGN HOMEWORK TO YOUR BRAIN
No, this doesn’t mean review your to-do list. Come up with creative--and fun--distractions to get your mind off present-day tasks. For example, plotting a new story line for your favorite TV show. Or better yet, plotting your dream vacation.
CALMLY MEDITATE WITH CALM
For the moments we can’t sleep, we’re obsessed with Calm, an app that supplies relaxing sounds like rainfall and crashing waves to drown out common household noises like creaking floorboards…and snoring husbands.
TRY THE 4-7-8 EXERCISE
If all else fails, wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil swears by this breathing technique to help your mind and body relax. How it works: While you’re lying in bed, exhale completely through your mouth; then, close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for seven counts and exhale again for eight counts. Repeat three more times -- assuming you’re awake that long.