You’re tired. You didn’t sleep well last night, or the night before. You can’t even function before your first cup of coffee in the morning, and might need another 2-3 cups to get you through the day. And while you feel so dang tired all day, when it comes time to actually go to bed you’re wide awake and can’t sleep a wink.
Oh man, have I been there. I have struggled with getting good-quality sleep my whole life and I’ve put together the absolute BEST practices to help you get the sleep you need.
#1: Create a Sleep Routine
I know you already have lots going on in your life and your schedule may change from day to day, but this one is really important. Think of your body as relying on rhythms. Your body won’t know what time you want it to start feeling tired (by way of producing melatonin) if you’re going to bed and waking up at different times throughout the week. You need to pick a bedtime for yourself (I recommend between 10-11pm) and a wake up time and stick to those times every single day, with maybe 30 minutes of wiggle room.
#2: Dim the Lights
Your body will also have a hard time knowing it’s time for bed if there’s lots of bright lights on in the evening and in front your face. Start dimming the lights in your home 2-3 hours before bedtime. Your phone emits a blue light that suppresses melatonin, so change the settings to warm light on your display in the evenings. It will minimize the effects of the phone’s light on your sleep. While this helps, using your phone up to the last minute before bedtime really won’t help you. Lastly, try to set up your room to be as dark as possible. This may require you to invest in some good blackout blinds or curtains and that does cost money but it really makes a difference. Try to reduce any amount of light in your bedroom, including from devices.
#3: Chill Out
The number one issue that makes it difficult for me to fall asleep is that my mind is always racing, no matter how tired I am. Part of calming your racing mind is putting down anything that’s going to trigger it 1-2 hours before bed. That means leave your phone aside. Don’t check Instagram or your email or the news in that window of time. Don’t talk about next month’s budget, continue working on small tasks that can wait until tomorrow, or anything that will make you feel alert. If you’ve got a lot on your mind after a stressful day, try writing down what’s on your mind in a journal or taking 10 minutes of meditation. In the last hour before I go to sleep, I like to turn my phone on night mode so that I don’t get any alerts and then I read a novel until my brain finally stops trying to THINK. That’s what works for me. The key is to find what works for you make your mind less alert and more relaxed.
Let me start by saying how much I love coffee. I LOVE coffee. I come from a long line of coffee lovers. But you know what? Coffee (and caffeine) does not help me sleep so I don’t drink it often. You’ve probably heard this before but it’s time to face the facts. Caffeine is a stimulant; it helps you feel more alert pretty quickly but also remains in the body for 6+ hours. Yes, there are benefits to drinking coffee and tea but if you’re having trouble falling asleep, you might want to weigh those against how they’re negatively impacting your health. I usually only drink caffeinated coffee in the morning (if at all) and avoid caffeine after 2pm. But overall, I treat caffeine as a treat rather than a part of my daily ritual because I know firsthand, as someone who regularly struggles with sleep, that’s it’s just not worth it.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, stress can play a HUGE role. My FREE Stress Less 5-Day Challenge started today and will tackle lots of ways to relieve stress and help you sleep. Join now so you don’t miss any of it!