Did you know that an estimated 68 percent of Americans can’t sleep well at least one night every week? A smaller number have the problem every single night!
Whether you’re stressed about a life event, travel a lot, or just don’t adopt good sleeping habits, it’s easy to suffer from insomnia from time to time. However, lying awake at night does more than stress you out and make you tired the next day. It can even further hurt your mental and physical health.
So, what should you do when you can’t sleep at night? Read on for eight steps to begin taking today!
1. Get Rid of Any Distractions
If you’re frustrated and lying awake, it helps to first check if your sleeping space has anything distracting that prevents you from relaxing.
For example, if your bedroom feels too hot or ice-cold, you will find it hard to drift off. Living near a noisy street or with a window that lets city lights shine through can also hurt your sleeping experience.
You can try to set your thermostat to the upper 60s to avoid temperature extremes. Using some thick window shades or blackout curtains can get rid of that unwanted light. A white noise machine or earplugs will keep noisy distractions from bothering you as much.
2. Get Up to Do Some Light Exercise
While you might think it’s counterproductive, one of the best things you can do when you can’t go to sleep is to get out of bed. Rather than just lie there, get up and stretch your body or even take a walk through your home or apartment.
While high-intensity exercise can rev you up so that you can’t relax and sleep, these light exercises have a different effect. They’ll raise your body temperature slightly, but when it goes back down, you’ll likely begin to feel sleepier and ready to doze off.
3. Try Reading a Book
If you don’t want to get up and move around, reading a book in bed with a small reading light can help calm your mind. In fact, reading before sleeping can both lower stress levels and benefit your cognitive function too.
Any book you enjoy can work. However, you might find that a duller book will put you to sleep faster.
However, try to stick to traditional paper books. Reading from a gadget that emits blue light can have the opposite effect and make it even harder to fall asleep.
4. Play a Soothing Podcast
While you’ll want to avoid looking at lit screens, listening to a podcast designed for those with insomnia might bring you success.
You can find podcasts that read you interesting bedtime stories or go on boring monologues that are sure to make you nod off eventually. There are also podcasts where someone with a soothing voice talks about daily events or plays soothing sounds for you.
5. Consider Using Meditation or Sleep Therapy Apps
Technology gets a bad name sometimes in how it can distract us from getting the sleep we need. But thanks to meditation and sleep therapy apps available for phones and tablets, you can use your apps on your gadgets to your advantage.
Apps like Calm and Headspace offer guided meditations focused on a specific issue you have. For example, you can find some to cut stress or anxiety. These apps can also play relaxing sleep music for when you just want something calming in the background.
Another app called Inscape lets you make custom sleep sessions and can take you on visual journeys to different relaxing settings.
6. Try Using CBD Products
If you think that your anxiety is why you can’t sleep at night, you could benefit from using some CBD products for insomnia.
You can find CBD oils and creams to use on your skin and feel calmer. You can also rest assured that you won’t get any unwanted high feelings like you would with marijuana.
Using CBD products can also come with other benefits. For example, it may help you feel less groggy the next day, and it can help with issues like pain and nausea.
7. Better Control Your Breathing with Exercises
Did you know that you can put a stop to racing thoughts at night using some simple breathing exercises?
Very popular for insomnia sufferers, the 4-7-8 breathing technique uses a combination of cycles where you exhale deeply through your mouth and inhale gently through your nose. You’ll first exhale, inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds. You can try this cycle four to eight times a night for good results.
If you want something simpler, you can try inhaling while counting from one to four and then exhaling while counting from five to eight. Keep your in and out breaths slow for this technique.
8. Just Stay Calm
When you’re tossing and turning, it’s easy to stress yourself wondering, “Why can I not sleep?” But freaking out like this adds to the problem since you’ll be aggravated wondering how you’ll make it through the workday and if you’ll even get to sleep at all.
Rather than getting upset, find some comfort in the fact that you get to at least be in a comfortable bed. Start thinking about some happy thoughts and memories.
When you stop letting your insomnia get the best of you, you might just find that you start to drift back to sleep.
Take This Advice If You Can’t Sleep at Night
Rather than lying in bed looking at the clock and tossing and turning, try some of these tips when you can’t go to sleep. Also, consider practicing good sleep hygiene every night. This includes limiting gadget use before bed and setting up your bedroom so that it’s a comfortable place to sleep.
It’s also worth telling your doctor you can’t sleep at night. Many health conditions such as thyroid problems, stomach disorders, and diabetes can cause insomnia. Getting checked out might help your doctor find a medication that treats an underlying condition that’s bothering your sleep.
Be sure to read our other health blog posts for more advice.
Ben Stern wrote this article on behalf of FreeUp. FreeUp is the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the US. FreeUp only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.
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