We’ve all been there - it’s a restless night where you can’t seem to catch a single hour of sleep. Your eyes are heavy, your body is tired, and you’re perfectly comfortable, but sleep feels light-years away.
Odds are, if you’re reading this article, you’re struggling to fall asleep. Whether it’s the night before an important exam or you’ve been struggling with insomnia for a while, it’s important to know the tricks and tips on how to make yourself fall asleep. After all, they don’t say we need at least 7 hours of sleep a night for a reason.
So, if you’re struggling to fall asleep, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our guide on how to make yourself fall asleep, including why you might be struggling to catch those zzz’s.
Why Can’t I Sleep?
Let’s take a look at why you’re not sleeping. There are a boundless number of reasons why you might not be sleeping. These include:
- Excitement or anxiety for the next day (a big test at school, starting a new job, getting married, etc.)
- Caffeine or sugar rush from a late night snack
- Too much screen time
- Late night exercise
- Certain health conditions
Sometimes, sleeplessness comes without a reason at all, and those nights are the most frustrating. So, it’s important to try and rationalize why you’re not sleeping properly to take the necessary steps to make yourself fall asleep.
How To Make Yourself Fall Asleep
Rationalize Your Sleeplessness
As mentioned above, the first step to making yourself fall asleep is to rationalize your sleeplessness. You might be stressed about work or a situation that’s keeping you from falling asleep, or you might be anxious about the next day ahead.
Whatever the reason is, it’s important to lay out the reasons why you are feeling a certain way.
Rationalizing these feelings can help to soothe your overwhelmed thoughts, and it really helps if you write them down on a piece of paper. You might even find that your anxious thoughts and stresses look far less daunting on paper.
If you sleep with your partner (and if they’re also awake), it might be helpful to express your thoughts to them. Even if you sleep alone, speaking your thoughts out loud can be a huge relief.
Practice Deep Breathing
There’s a lot of power in breathing. There are countless breathing exercises designed to improve concentration, increase energy levels, and even to help you fall asleep.
One of the best breathing exercises to fall asleep is known as “4-7-8”, designed by Dr. Andrew Weil. This method was inspired by breath control in yoga, and it is proven to relax the nervous system.
It can be practiced before you go to bed, when you’re struggling to sleep, and throughout the day if you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
Here’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique:
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth, and exhale all the air in your lungs through your mouth. You should make a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth, then inhale through your nose for 4 counts.
- Hold your breath for 7 counts.
- Exhale through your mouth for 8 counts, making the “whoosh” sound.
- Repeat this technique at least 3 times or until you feel relaxed.
If you’re finding that you nap frequently throughout the day, this might be the reason you can’t sleep at night. Quick power naps (for 30 minutes maximum) might be okay, but taking a nap for up to or over 2 hours takes you into the danger zone.
Studies have shown that people who take 2+ hour-long naps struggle to sleep at night, because you’ve essentially rebooted and rested your body during the day.
Also, if you nap in the same bed you sleep in, you might only associate your bed with napping rather than a deep sleep.
Don’t Work In Your Bedroom
Working from home is great, but you should try to avoid working in your bedroom if you struggle with sleep - especially if you like to work in bed.
For those who can’t sleep at night, it might be because your body is involuntarily associating your bedroom (and bed) with productivity, therefore it won’t rest properly.
The same also applies to watching films, reading books, or doing anything else in your bed other than sleeping.
If you’re reading this on your phone at night, you might want to scroll through the article quickly before putting your phone away. Electronic devices emit blue light from their screens, which actually suppresses melatonin - the hormone responsible for sleep.
So, try to avoid watching films, TV, and scrolling through social media before you go to sleep. If you need to use an electronic device, then we recommend getting a blue light screen filter or blue light glasses.
Listen To Relaxing Music
Music is actually proven to cure even the most severe cases of insomnia. Try listening to calm music such as Buddhist music, which is often used for meditation.
Avoid listening to music that you know, because this will encourage your brain to “sing along”.
Alternatively, listen to sounds on a loop that are known for relaxation, such as rain and rainforest sounds, thunderstorm sounds, and white noise.
There are so many tips that will help you sleep, whether immediately or in the future. These include:
- Avoiding caffeine and high-carb foods
- Avoiding alcohol
- Lowering the temperature
- Thinking of things that make you happy
- Take sleep-enhancing pills (magnesium, L-theanine, GABA, melatonin, etc.)
- Read a book
- Try a new sleeping position
- Get a new mattress
- Exercise throughout the day
- Meditate before going to bed
- Don’t obsess over the clock
- Stick to a routine
- Use essential oils
You can even try to force yourself to stay awake, which is a paradoxical intention that stops your brain from stressing about trying to sleep. Reducing this frustration should encourage your body to drift off!
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful tips on how to make yourself fall asleep. Happy sleeping!