4. Shut Off the TV and Computer & Read a Book Before Bed
The light from self luminous TV and computer screens is so bright that it suppresses melatonin production and may leave you staring at the ceiling for hours after you go to bed. This is especially true of computer screens since your face is generally a lot closer to it than a TV, which means more light gets to the back of your eyes.
Plus, TV and the computer can be very visually and mentally stimulating. You don’t want your brain too stimulated before bed, or it will be left whirring about what you were just watching or doing for long after you’ve gone to bed.
So try shutting the computer off at least a half hour if not more before bed and read a (preferably boring) book instead. Or putter around, tidy your house, pick out an outfit, make your lunch for tomorrow, etc.
If you simply can’t tear yourself away from the computer, then try to dim the screen as much as possible. I use an app on my Mac called F.lux, which automatically dims the screen after sunset and gets rid of that eerie blue glow. That might not be enough though if you are a chronic insomniac.
5. Listen to White Noise and Ambient Sounds
If you find that you have a difficult time sleeping because of noises in your house, you could play white noise to drown it out. White noise is like a repetitive fuzzy sounding noise (like the static sound between TV and radio stations, the whirring of a fan, or the sound of a hair dryer or vacuum). The reason it works is because the frequencies in white noise are so all over the place that your brain gets overloaded and can’t pick out specific noises. The background sounds from your house become indistinguishable so that your brain doesn’t feel obligated to make sense of them, and therefore can rest.
In other words, it will drown out your roommates talking in the living room, your dad thumping up the stairs, or your dog snoring.
To get yourself some white noise, there’s lots of white noise apps for your phone or computer, free white noise websites, or tracks on youtube. Just get on the ol’ google machine and you’ll find plenty. They often come with soothing nature sounds on top of the white noise so it’s not just a bunch of annoying fuzz. Alternatively you can use a fan, an actual white noise machine, or the static on the radio.
6. Listen to a Sleep Meditation
If you are someone who can’t fall asleep due to a racing mind, listening to a guided sleep meditation can help. A guided sleep meditation is where someone on a recorded audio track talks you through settling your whole body and falling into a deep deep relaxation. They are often accompanied by soothing whooshing and nature sounds. Here is an example from youtube.
Listening to this type of track gives you something to focus all your attention on in the present moment so that you don’t drift off away into your worries. Make sure it’s long enough so that you fall asleep before it’s finished.
7. Turn the Heat Down
Your body temperature actually drops at night while you sleep, so if your room is too hot, you may have trouble sleeping! Turn the temperature down and snuggle under your covers. Alternatively, turn on an oscillating fan and it doubles as white noise too!
Also you may want to avoid doing things like having a hot bath within two hours before bed, as it may raise your body temperature and keep you awake. Having one earlier though can help you relax and get ready for sleep.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
Also, be aware of how much or how little you are eating before bed. Eating a big meal right before bed can interfere with sleep due to all the energy needed to digest the food. Alternatively, being too hungry can be so distracting that you can’t sleep.
And one last thing: don’t drink too much liquid before bed! Or you’ll be up peeing and risk not getting back to sleep after.
10. Keep as Regular a Sleep Schedule as Possible
Your sleep is regulated by your internal body clock – aka the circadian rhythm – aka the thing that gives you jet lag when you fly overseas. The circadian rhythm regulates all the body’s functions that cycle in a 24 hour period. These rhythms are reset daily to match a 24 hour day by factors such as exposure to daylight and social cues like when we eat our meals.
So that being said, it is best to keep a regular schedule of meals and bedtime – as much as possible, of course. It’s also good to make yourself up a little bed time ritual that you do every night before bed, which cues your body to release the sleep hormones.
It’s also important that you get up out of bed as soon as possible in the morning after you wake up, open the door and expose yourself to bright sunlight (it works best if you actually go outside or stick your head out a window and flood the back of your eyes with light). This will help you reset your circadians and get you snoozing come bed time.