It happens to the best of us – we have an early start the next day but are unable to fall asleep. We lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, and listening to the ticking clock as the night refuses to end. For some people, it happens every day, and for others, it happens when they are too tired or stressed, and their brains simply won’t shut up. The most interesting – and frustrating -thing about not being able to fall asleep is that the more you think about it, the harder it is for sleep to come.
Does that mean you have a sleep disorder? Yes and no. Some people have trouble falling asleep when they have a lot on their minds or when they are too stressed or excited. However, if this is a regular occurrence without any external cause, you probably have sleep-onset insomnia. This is a condition when the person is unable to fall asleep when he is supposed to. Sleep onset insomnia is also sometimes called delayed sleep disorder and can be a common occurrence with some people.
When you are unable to fall asleep at the right time, you get late in the morning and remain drowsy the rest of the day. The hours lost at night result in sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness. It is no surprise that sleep disorders are on the rise around the world, and affecting the global economy because of lost productivity. Besides, sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness cause accidents and injuries and also lead to greater health problems later in life.
Why You Can’t Fall Asleep?
When we go to bed, we want to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Everyone loves a good night’s rest because it makes them feel fresh and alert and helps them achieve more throughout the day. But a lot of reasons contribute to sleep onset insomnia or simply the inability to fall asleep. This can either happen on a regular basis or once in a while, but it is frustrating nevertheless.
Stress and anxiety are usually the two most important factors that interfere with normal sleep. When there is a lot on your mind, sleep can be elusive. Until your brain shuts off, it is hard to fall asleep. Consuming caffeine and alcohol before bed can also interfere with sleep. Medical conditions and medications also cause sleep problems.
However, sometimes every person finds it hard to fall asleep, even if they sleep without any issues on other nights. This is often because of mental exertion, stress, anxiety or the wrong foods.
10 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster
If you do not have a medical problem and are unable to fall asleep simply because of external factors, there are things you can do to make sleep come faster. The following tips are meant to help you get started on a healthy sleep routine that makes falling asleep and waking up the next morning equally easy.
- Go to Bed Only When You Are Sleepy
Just because it’s time for bed doesn’t mean you should be lying in bed when you aren’t sleepy. Make it a point to go to bed only when you feel sleepy. This will help the brain associate the bed with sleep and nothing else.
- Maintain A Sleep Routine
Once you get home from work, make sure to wind down with a relaxing sleep routine. From having a relaxing drink to taking a warm bath to listening to soothing music, it all helps your brain shut down and get into sleep mode.
- Watch or Read Something Boring
That’s right if you must read or watch TV in bed, make sure it’s something boring. There’s even a channel on YouTube called Napflix that plays boring videos to help you fall asleep. Avoid watching horror movies or the 11 pm news or anything that excites you.
- Don’t Look at The Clock
When you’re lying in bed unable to sleep, your eyes keep going to the bedside clock. Looking at the time every few seconds makes the night pass slower than usual. To avoid this, either remove the clock from the room or turn it backward. When you cannot see the time, you fret less about being unable to fall asleep.
- Adjust the Temperature
Regardless of the season, if your bedroom doesn’t have the ideal temperature, it can be hard to fall asleep. If it’s too cold, turn the thermostat up. If it’s too hot, turn on the air conditioner. If you want your room warm even in summer and if it’s something that helps you sleep better, don’t be shy about turning up the thermostat when everyone else is using the AC.
- Keep Warm
It isn’t uncommon to find people who have chilly hands and feet throughout the year, especially when they go to bed. If this is you and it keeps you from falling asleep at night, try warming up your feet. Either wear socks to bed or use an additional blanket or soak your feet in warm water before hitting the sack.
- Have Comfortable Bedding
Not many people want to invest in comfortable bedding because they think it’s a waste of money. What they don’t realize is that bedding is crucial to sleep quality. When you have attractive and comfortable bedding, it makes sleep time more appealing and makes you look forward to going to bed.
- Try Deep Breathing
If it’s stress and anxiety keeping you from falling asleep, practice deep breathing while you’re lying in bed. Simply breathe through your nose, making sure it’s your belly that swells and not your chest and exhale from your mouth. Keep doing this until you doze off.
- Have Sex
Whether you are coupled up or single, sex is powerful enough to help you relax because it releases the feel-good hormone called oxytocin. That’s the reason why bedtime is regarded as the best time to have sex because it helps you get relaxed and sound sleep afterward.
- Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bed
What you eat for dinner often has a big impact on your sleep quality. If you have a heavy meal close to bedtime, your digestive system will work throughout the night, preventing your brain and body from relaxing and falling asleep. If you must eat close to bedtime, keep it light. A heavy meal for dinner should be consumed within 6 in the evening, not later.
When to Seek Medical Help for Sleep-Onset Insomnia?
If all these lifestyle changes do not resolve your sleep-onset insomnia, you can seek medical help. However, it is recommended that you try every means in the book before taking the help of sleep supplements or medications.