Do you find yourself staring at the ceiling until 3 a.m. before you finally manage to catch some shut-eye? Sleep expert Robert Rosenberg, D.O., FCCP, says stress is the biggest reason people have trouble falling asleep fast. “Many people have a hard time shutting down their minds at bedtime because they continue to ruminate over how they could have altered the things that took place at work or interactions between them and their co-workers,” he says. “This stress leads to elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which make it difficult to fall asleep.”
Scientific research has corroborated this. In a study published December 2014 in Cognitive Therapy and Research, researchers found a connection between negative thinking and delayed sleep timing.
Try these suggestions to help you fall asleep fast in today’s stressful world:
1.Create soothing surroundings
If you are going to fall asleep fast, you have to first improve your sleeping environment.”Getting your sleep patterns in order would begin with getting your environment in order,” says Mercy Medical Center-affiliated internist Marc Leavey, M.D. “What you need: a comfortable bed, the right room temperature, covers that are neither too heavy or flimsy, and bedclothes as much or little as you feel you need.” He also suggests counting back eight to nine hours from your anticipated waking time before plunging into bed. For a finishing touch, engage in some quiet activity, such as reading, sewing or watching a peaceful TV show.
2.Beat negative thoughts
Many people have trouble sleeping quickly because they can’t stop the flow of negative thoughts. Everything from job troubles to dating issues keeps them from falling into the arms of Morpheus, that mythological god of dreams. Mental health therapist Justine Froelker says if you haven’t gone to sleep within 20 minutes of hitting the bed, it’s time to get up.”Go get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom, or try reading. Lying there for longer than 20 minutes is only more infuriating and makes it even more difficult to fall asleep.” Froelker also recommends getting out your journal and penning down all your negative thoughts. “Do not re-read, simply write out that yuck. Rip up the page or just close the journal, and try to fall asleep again.”
3.Mind what you consume
Avoid alcohol and caffeine six to eight hours before bedtime. Instead, try to consume carb-rich foods with a high glycemic index, such as pretzels, potatoes, rice or even honey, which can raise glucose levels enough to make you drowsy. Foods high in tryptophan, such as walnuts, seafood, or hummus, may be of help too. “The classic chamomile tea can help many to relax into somnolence. And that glass of warm milk, or even some cheese and crackers, may be enough for some people,” says Leavey.
4.Take a break from tech
Could your smartphone be the reason you can’t fall asleep quickly? A Norwegian study this year provided evidence that smartphone use during the day and at bedtime can result in poor quality sleep. “You should treat your bedroom as a place for sleep and sex only,” warns Rosenberg. “Do not bring work-related activities into the bedroom. No computers or blue-light emitting electronic devices.”
5.Build a sleeping habit
You will be able to get to sleep quickly every night if you develop a habit of trying to sleep on time. But building habits doesn’t necessarily come easy; it may take some time. “So go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Don’t sleep late on weekends, trying to catch up,” says Leavey. “Establish a schedule that allows adequate sleep time. Eight hours nightly is optimal.”
If these tips don’t help, it may be time to see a doctor. You may be suffering from a sleep disorder.