Having trouble falling asleep is an experience that many people (there are between 50 and 70 million people) know like the back of their eyelids. You would think that such a ubiquitous problem would have an equally ubiquitous solution, but unfortunately, here it is. Many of us are in the dark when it comes to getting a good night’s rest.
Long-term sleep deprivation has a serious impact on our health and well-being. “Not getting enough sleep can have long-term effects on your life, from a weakened immune system, impaired digestive function, increased depression and anxiety, to an increased risk of developing metabolic disease and heart disease. It affects every aspect,” says certified Kelly Murray. Pediatric and adult sleep consultant.
Still, knowing you need sleep doesn’t necessarily help you get your work done (if it even does!). Before that, Murray and Abhinav Singh, M.D., director of the Indiana Sleep Center and medical review specialist at the Sleep Foundation, explain why so many people suffer from sleep disorders and how they can finally rest their minds. offers her six tips.
Why it’s so hard to fall asleep
In order to turn off the brain’s energy at night, you need to be calm, cool and collected. But the truth is, many of us haven’t shaken off the day’s worries by the time we slip under the covers.
“The most common reason people have trouble falling asleep is mental and emotional stress,” Murray says. “Experiencing a stressful situation triggers our fight-or-flight response. As a result, our bodies produce cortisol, a warning hormone, that forces us to flee the situation or fight for our lives. Feeling the evolutionary urge to outrun a lion isn’t exactly a lullaby, is it?
Worry isn’t the only thing that keeps us up at night. Factors such as genetics, irregular work schedules, and drug use can also affect the quality of your sleep. If you suspect that something other than stress is contributing to your tossing and turning, talk to your doctor.
6 tips for falling asleep (and staying asleep)
1. Limit or avoid alcohol before bed
Alcohol is a sedative, and while it may help you fall asleep faster, whether you’ll be able to sleep well for eight hours after drinking alcohol is a different story. Research shows that alcohol can suppress REM sleep in your first two sleep cycles. This means that even if you stay in Dreamworld all night, you can wake up feeling like you spent the night aimlessly counting sheep.
Alcohol is a diuretic, a substance that increases the amount of water in your body, so a few glasses of wine might even trigger a midnight pee break (well, let’s be real, a few glasses).
How much and how often you drink is obviously up to you. Knowing that alcohol has a sleep-disrupting effect, we’ll tell you when it’s worth drinking a martini and when you want to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next day. , to help you make informed decisions. These are, *sigh*, the kinds of adult decisions that adults have to make every day. So do you.
2. Create a last-minute bedtime routine
When we say you need to come up with a bedtime routine that makes others roll their eyes, we mean it. Dr. Singh recommends creating a relaxation ritual that incorporates candlelit showers, journaling, breathing exercises, reading, and other relaxing activities.
Whichever pre-sleep routine you choose, make sure your phone isn’t part of the equation. “Reduce your phone use 45 minutes before bedtime and dim your ambient light at night,” says Dr. Singh.
3. Turn your bedroom into a cave
Dr. Singh has a vision for the perfect bedroom atmosphere. It should be “dark, cool, quiet and comfortable, like a cave,” he says. Once your bedtime rituals are complete and your eyelids begin to droop, you can enter a cavernous room equipped with dimmed lighting, a gravity blanket, a sound machine, and every other cozy space you can think of. Having a space called only That’s because sleep signals your brain and body that it’s time to shut down and recover.
4. Stick to a sleep schedule
This is probably the most hated of all sleep advice. You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. According to Dr. Singh, this is true even on weekends.
Maintaining a strict sleep schedule strengthens your circadian rhythm, the way your body rests, wakes, and functions in a 24-hour cycle. Over time, sticking to this agenda will teach our bodies that we should feel sleepy around 10pm and feel energetic around 7am.
5. Don’t stare at the clock
While it may be tempting to look at your alarm clock and start doing mental exercises (“Even if you fall asleep within an hour, you can still sleep for six hours”), both Dr. Singh and Dr. Warning against gymnastics. Math.
Naturally, some of the freshman-level algebra doesn’t help you fall asleep. It will stress you out and delay your path to rest. In fact, a 2023 study conducted by Indiana University found that time-watching behavior caused irritability and sleep problems in 5,000 study participants.
The lesson here? Move your alarm clock away from yourself, or if you’re feeling daring, ban it from your bedroom altogether.
6. Make a plan for when you can’t sleep.
We’ve all been there. 5 minutes have passed. . . Then 30. . . Then 90. still Despite counting 12 dozen sheep and trying my reliable breathing technique, I couldn’t sleep. If you find yourself in this situation, break out of your cozy cave and, as difficult as it may be, head to a more neutral area of your home. why? Staying in your bedroom when you can’t sleep can create a negative association with that place, like insomnia, and that’s the last thing we want.
Once you’re on the couch, pick up a hobby or activity that’s fun and not too stimulating. For example, she might want to read a poem or two or do some light stretching. What you don’t want to do is immerse yourself in the romance book you’re currently obsessed with or turn on the TV. Remember, the purpose of this little midnight break is to make you feel sleepy, not to make you so excited that you swear you’ll never sleep again.
If you feel like you can’t keep your eyes open anymore, go back to the bedroom. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to leave without any problems.
7. Seek professional help
One last thing to note. Dr. Singh says it’s important to seek help right away if you start having trouble sleeping. You can develop better sleep habits at any time, but catching sleep disturbances or negative sleep patterns when you first notice them can help you rule out larger health issues and help you get a better night’s sleep. It gives you the opportunity to avoid things that aren’t there.