Am I the only person who has trouble sleeping sometimes? Probably not. I go through phases where I think and worry too much at night. Sometimes so much so, that I can’t sleep anymore. Since I have a busy job, with a long commute, as well as a busy personal life in which I also try to squeeze regular work outs, life gets hectic. And when life gets hectic, I stop sleeping as well. I need some time to process and if I don’t allow myself that time, I can’t sleep. Over the years, I’ve found some tips and tricks that have helped me to get to sleep quicker and clock in sufficient sleeping hours.
The main reason why I usually can’t sleep is because my head is simply filled with thoughts that literally tumble over one another when I can’t sleep. I keep thinking of things I still need to do, keep processing things I did or said or that were done or said to me in the course of the day. And the problem is: I can’t stop. But I have found 8 steps that have helped me calm my mind. And I am not going to lie: there are still nights where I can’t sleep, but they are far fewer than they were before.
1. Write down a to do list before going to bed
My first tip is to write down the things you still want to or have to do tomorrow. You can do this in an agenda, or a post it note. If you find yourself milling about because you keep thinking of the phone calls you still have to make or the chores you still have to do, it’s very counterproductive to try and fall asleep.
2. Put a notebook besides your bed so you can write down your thoughts
For years I have kept a notebook on my bedside table. I still have the same one as it’s an emergency only sort of resort. Only when I feel really bad and need to get something off my chest, yet it is 2 AM and I don’t want to wake anyone, is when I bust this out. It sometimes just helps to clear your mind and see things as they are.
3. Clean up before going to bed
Simply pick up after yourself. I find I cannot sleep if I have dishes lying about or anything else that is not supposed to be anywhere near me. I find this especially goes for my sleeping area: my bed is for sleeping only, so if I have too much crap lying about, I find it interrupts with my peace of mind.
4. Put out things for the next morning
If you worry about forgetting something in the morning, it can help to lay out your things, especially if you have an early start. I don’t know how clearheaded you are at 6 AM in the morning, but I need all the help I can get. So I pack my bag the night before, lay out my clothes and make up and even make sure I have my lunch packed and ready to go in my fridge. All I have to do is grab my things and I’m out the door.
5. Do something that helps you relax
At night it might help you to get sleepy if you do something relaxing. It is wise to limit ‘screen time’ and avoid things that might upset or agonize you. For example: read magazines, polish nails, watch Youtube videos, read a book, or do a yoga work out/ meditate. However, if I read a book or watch a movie that is too exciting/ sad/ scary, I can’t sleep!
6. Have a routine
Having a night time routine can be part of your cleaning up and relaxation process. Just try to make sure you finish the most active process of the routine well before you head hits the pillow. For my routine I do at least the following: clean my face, put my hair in a bun, put on my pjs, brush my teeth and apply my skincare, take medication, put on lip balm, put on cuticle oil and hand cream. Up until the skincare routine, I love having that done at least an hour before I go to bed.
7. Keep your bed for sleeping
I love my bed, I really do. If I could I would spent the entire day in bed. However, keeping your bed for what it is supposed to be for can help you get to sleep quicker and sleep more deeply. Apparently our brains are wired for association games and if your brain no longer associates your bed with sleeping, it will keep you awake.
8. Don’t do too much at night
I have already mentioned that I make sure my tasks for the night are done 30 – 60 minutes before I go to bed. I find it allows my mind to unwind and give myself space to ‘think’ and worry before I actually try to sleep. However, I also find that if I am too active (for instance my Wednesday night dance class or another cardio work out at night) will keep me up later than I am supposed to. I have my day off from work on Thursday just because I cannot go to bed before 1 AM on a Wednesday night.
What do you do to help you get to sleep?