Most people are familiar with basic sleep tricks like drinking warm milk or staying away from electronics before bed. However, some people need to take their bedtime routines to the next level by researching other ways to get to sleep at a decent time each night.
Knowing the science of your body’s sleep needs isn’t as hard as you might think and just one or two of these tricks can dramatically improve your sleep habits. Remember, though, none of these is a substitute for poor sleep habits. Falling asleep is also harder the first few nights while testing new anti snoring devices, but over time you can adapt to sleeping in the devices.
1. Breathing Techniques
Your body breathes at a certain pace when you’re sleeping, and making your breath fall into that rhythm can help your body realize that it’s time for sleep. Start by taking deep breaths, holding them for four seconds, then slowly exhaling. Repeat until your body starts to breathe calmly on its own and your mind relaxes.
Imagining a beach or other well-loved place may sound like a way to stay awake, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Just make sure to choose a calming, relaxing place - not your office! Use your senses to reminisce about how the place sounds, feels, and even smells. It may also help to visualize a pleasant part of your daily routine, like making breakfast or going for an evening walk.
3. Tense Your Muscles
Even a simple toe-curling motion can help put you to sleep. Try curling your toes, holding the position for a few seconds, then relaxing them. Repeat a few times until the monotonous exercise starts to put you to sleep.
For full-body relaxation, start by curling your toes, then slowly squeeze and relax every part of your body in turn. Work your way up your body until you’ve tensed and relaxed everything from your toes to your face. Take deep breaths in between each squeeze to maximize the effect.
4. White Noise
Most people think of white noise as a way to drown out other sounds nearby, but simply listening to white noise can help put your body to sleep. The monotony of white noise can slowly help you relax and listening to white noise before bed on a regular basis can also “train” your body to get ready for bed. This is a great trick to try if listening to music you like ends up keeping you awake.
For a more whimsical take on white noise, try the Sleep With Me Podcast, which reads nonsensical stories in a monotone voice to lull listeners to sleep. Some may find the voice to be too distracting, but others will find the experience similar to bedtime stories they heard as a child.
5. Lemon Balm Tea
While chamomile tea is more well-known for sleeplessness, lemon balm tea can be great for patients who don’t like the taste of chamomile or who haven’t found it effective. Lemon balm tea is also good for your heart and has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Keep in mind that herbal teas like lemon balm can react with medications, so check with your doctor before taking.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to go to a practitioner’s office right before bed to benefit from acupressure. Some acupressure points for relieving insomnia are easy-to-find, and it only takes a few minutes to get the results you want.
7. Keep a Journal
A bedtime routine like writing in a journal can help train your mind to switch to sleep mode. In order for it to work, you must be disciplined about doing it every day - even when you’re already exhausted and ready to crawl into bed. Similarly, writing a detailed to-do list before bed can help you unwind and allow your mind to rest more easily.
Keep in mind that this may work best for people who don’t get hung up on stressful things that happened during the day. If journaling makes you think about stressful events that end up keeping you awake longer, you may need to try another technique for calming down before bed.
8. Tell Yourself to Stay Awake
Reverse psychology really works wonders on insomnia. Trying to will yourself to stay awake often has the opposite effect - you’ll start to doze off sooner than if you had told yourself to fall asleep. If you’re too aggressive in your attempts to stay awake, of course, you’ll actually stay awake.
Of course, the above tips only work if your sleep environment is relatively free of noise, indoor allergens, and other disturbances. If snoring is a factor, you may need to fix the cause of you or your partner’s snoring before getting a good night’s rest.