We’ve all been there – lying in bed for seemingly hours on end, struggling to fall asleep, or even just to get your brain to stop replaying that one embarrassing moment from twelve years ago. There are a lot of articles out there that tell you to stop looking at your phone before bed, or to black out your room, or to make sure you’re in a cool environment. But what if you’ve already done that? Or if you’re unable to? Here are five tips to try when you’re struggling to sleep that can be implemented pretty much anywhere. Sweet dreams, friends!
Stay still for seven minutes
I’m not sure where I learnt this trick, but it’s my go-to for those times where I just can’t get comfortable. The goal is to lie totally still for seven minutes. If you readjust your position, or scratch your nose, or even sneeze, the seven minutes starts again. Even if it takes longer than seven minutes for you to fall asleep, you’ll have no way of knowing, because you can’t move to check the time. Give it a go whenever you’re struggling to keep still, and you’ll be drifting off in no time.
This tactic works well in both calming your body down and giving you something to focus on whilst you’re trying to fall asleep. The method is this: breathe in deeply for four seconds. Hold said breath for seven seconds, and then slowly exhale for eight seconds. Repeat until you’re asleep. It’s really that simple! This technique is thought to work because it helps the body regulate its oxygen levels, bringing it into a state of deep relaxation.
Another favourite of mine when I can’t get my mind to switch off is listening to sleep podcasts. The idea of them is to literally bore you to sleep, and they do their jobs well. The ‘I Can’t Sleep Podcast’ attempts this by reading random Wikipedia pages to you. Sometimes they’re about fonts, sometimes they’re about materials, sometimes they’re about natural geographic phenomena. The ‘Sleep With Me Podcast‘ has a similar concept, though each episode is over an hour long, meaning that it’ll almost guarantee you’re dreaming by the end of it. There, the narrator of the podcast describes television episodes in a longwinded, over-detailed fashion. No matter what either podcast is really about, you’ll be bored to sleep in no time.
While it’s true that screen time definitely doesn’t help you fall asleep, the same can’t be said about a good old fashioned pen and paper. If you can’t stop thinking about things, or even if you just want to spill your mind, writing down everything that you’ve got on your mind will help you gain a little clarity, and maybe calm you down enough to help you get to sleep. Even if that’s not the case, wearing your mind out a bit might tire you out enough that you’re sleepy just from the writing process!
If you still can’t sleep, I’m sorry. It’s time to call out the big guns. Do some star jumps in your room, or run a couple laps around the living room. Maybe try some stretches? If your mind is tired but your body isn’t, do some strenuous activity for ten or twenty minutes. Hopefully this will wear your body out enough for you to fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.