Sleep is one of the most important things your body needs, yet sometimes it is a struggle to get that necessary rest. You toss and turn, try counting sheep, or watch a boring movie, but nothing seems to work.
In today’s culture, we enjoy being busy all day long, often taking work home with us. We feel exhausted throughout the day and look forward to when we can wind down and turn our brains off. That busy culture makes turning your mind off before bed difficult, so here are a few ways to relax your mind to prepare for sleep.
1. Sleep Schedule
Although most people go to work at the same time every day, we often do not practice the same consistency with our sleep schedules. Synchronizing your body to a routine gives it the best possible chance of developing healthy habits for better sleep.
Circadian rhythms are your body’s natural time clock. By sleeping and waking up at different times throughout the week, your body fails to set regular circadian rhythms, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. It is a place designed to suit your comforts, styles, and needs. Set up your room to optimize your sleeping capabilities.
Maintain a preferred temperature and lighting level each night and create a quiet atmosphere before bedtime to improve your ability to fall asleep quickly.
On top of maintaining a consistent waking and sleeping schedule, create a pre-bedtime nightly ritual. Routine activities give your mind the ability to shut down while doing mundane tasks.
Once you begin performing these activities every night, your body will automatically start associating the routine with bedtime. Allow this routine to take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman recommends including relaxing activities into your nightly routine, such as stretching, reading, listening to calm music, or performing relaxation exercises.
4. Relaxation Exercises
When we think about relaxation exercise, the first thing that usually comes to mind is meditation. Practicing meditation daily gives your mind the tools it needs to shut down and let the chaos of everyday life disappear.
Meditation does not always involve shutting your eyes and trying to “clear your mind.” There are many meditation techniques for you to choose from. When you find a technique that you enjoy, remember to stick to it. At first, meditating may seem awkward or anxiety-inducing, but if you practice it regularly, the benefits to your sleep and every other aspect of your life make it a worthwhile endeavor.
Other relaxation exercises include deep breathing techniques, which you may also learn through yoga or meditation, and progressive muscle-relaxation exercises. Progressive muscle relaxation involves going through each muscle group individually, tensing the muscles in that group for a short period, and then releasing.
5. Mental Exercises
Performing mental exercises may seem contradictory to the notion of using relaxation exercises to tune the world out. However, creating distractions for your mind to wander through can allow the brain to forget about its worries.
If you are learning another language, this is a great time to repeat a few new words in your head until you fall asleep. Doing this also gives you the added benefit of helping you build a habit of improving your vocabulary.
For those not interested in learning another language. Try to recite all the words you know that start with the same letter or focus on describing a particular object. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental exercises, so try out a few and see which ones work best for you.
6. Physical Activity
Endorphins released during physical activity help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, which are three things that make falling asleep more difficult.
For some, physical activity too close to bedtime can be too stimulating and make falling asleep difficult. Therefore, make sure to work out a few hours before trying to fall asleep so you can relax fully before heading to bed.
7. Turn Off Devices
Looking at Facebook or answering those last few emails may be tempting but try to refrain from those activities before you go to bed. The light from electronic devices tricks our retinas into thinking it’s still light outside, and as a result, our circadian rhythms get thrown out of sync.
Make your bed a device-free zone, so your body associates bed solely with sleep time and not with other activities.
8. Take Note of Things That May be Affecting Your Ability to Sleep
Keep track of what your mind is obsessing over before falling asleep and write those things down earlier in the day. That way, when it arises before bed, you can convince your brain that you’ve resolved that worry previously.
Caffeine can stay in your system for around four to seven hours. If you are having trouble sleeping, try to remember when you had your last cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage. Use what you remembered to set a cut-off schedule after which you should avoid drinking anything with caffeine.
If you are concerned that snoring is bothering you or those you love, consult your doctor to find a snoring solution to put your mind at ease. Using a snoring apparatus can reduce the amount of noise either you or your sleeping partner creates, giving both of you a better sleep experience.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!