Tips and Tricks to Fall Asleep Faster.
I don't know about you, but this is pretty much a constant in my life. By the end of the day I am legit exhausted, and yet, when the lights go out, my mind starts spinning. I'll reflect on the day, make a mental list of all the things I have to do the next day, obsessively worry about things that will probably never happen, or just lay there because I'm actually not as tired as I thought I was. I can actually stress myself out doing this, which makes it worse and then I'm awake even longer. Also, I am a true night owl- I am much more productive later at night so I can't generally go to bed too early or the wheels will just be spinning for even longer than normal.
For those of us whose brains have decided to run the hamster wheel once the lights go out, here's a few things I've been trying that seem to help:
Write it Out
When I have a huge amount of tasks/errands/ideas/to dos running through my head that I need to remember for the next day (or next few weeks even) I sit down and make notes and lists of everything I can think of that I need to remember. By writing it down, I can stop worrying about trying to remember it by the next day, which seems to help my mind relax a little bit. I also keep a notepad by the bed so I can write things down that pop up once the lights go out.
If I find that I am really awake and getting worked up about things then I will actually get up and do something. I'll get my computer and clear out my inbox. I'll work on a book that I've been enjoying. I'll do some small chores or go upstairs to my office and make something small. Anything to give myself a little bit more activity to wear myself out a little bit more. Like I said, I'm a night owl, so I think there are just days that I have energy to spare later in the day and I need to use it up before trying to sleep.
If you really are tired and just want to lay still, you might want to try a guided mediation. This generally involves some calming music with a soothing voice encouraging you to relax, let your muscles loose, and let your thoughts go. You can find several sequences on You Tube, or you can look for a CD on Amazon or in a local store. What's great is that this can be done anywhere- on the couch, on the floor, while lying in bed- and you can do it with headphones so you don't disturb anyone else.
This is basically a form of mediation since you are guiding your brain to think of just one thing, but I've found it is helpful to count numbers. Just start at one and keep going, and when you notice your mind wandering off, as you know it will, pull it back. It helps to visualize the number to bring focus to your mind. Eventually I think my mind gets bored of this and allows itself to drift off to sleep.
You know they say to limit your screen time before going to bed because it can stimulate your brain, so a great alternative is reading. Reading is not only relaxing because it pulls you into the story and hopefully helps you forget your running task list for awhile, but it also tires your eyes which can signal your brain that it's time to sleep. However, if you are a Reader, like me, and have a particularly good book, this one can do the opposite because then you want to know what happens next and you just keep going. Then it's 1am and you're really tired.
Cool Off Your Room
New England has been enjoying some perfectly crisp autumn evenings this August, which has been perfect for open-window sleeping. I love being just a little bit chilly and being able to cover up with the blanket, as opposed to being a little warm and not having covers. There's something about snuggling under a blanket that just aids with sleep, am I right? When it's warmer and humid, we use the air conditioning to dry out the air and make it comfortably cool for sleeping.
Do you have a hamster wheel spinning in your head at night? What do you do to help yourself stop the thoughts and get some sleep?