As you can imagine if you’ve read any of my blog posts, the subject of how to fall asleep and stay asleep is of great interest to me…
I have trouble sleeping. I have had trouble sleeping for well over a decade. I can probably count on 2 hands the number of times I’ve gotten a good night’s rest in the last 13 years. I can directly attribute my accelerated aging to my inability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. So I am doing some research to see what are some of the ideas that are commonly suggested to people trying to find out how to fall asleep and stay asleep.
I have been doing some experimenting on my own as well and I have found at least one trick that has been helping me to fall asleep whenever I remember to try it. Some nights my mind is so lost in thoughts that impair my ability to sleep that I don’t remember I have this trick I can use to help me fall asleep. I find that the trick works to help me fall asleep pretty much all the time if I hang with it long enough. It does not, however help me stay asleep.
The trick: I close my eyes and try to look deep into the dark until it begins to appear as if I am traveling fast through a tunnel. If I stick with it long enough, it begins to appear as if the tunnel is lit by many streaks of light. The light is not immediate and it’s not constant. It can be hard to stick with the tunnel travel because without the light, there is no target pulling you in towards it. With the light it’s as if you have something to chase. And the longer you hang with it the faster you travel until you are no longer aware of being in the tunnel moving at what seems to be the speed of light. Because you have fallen asleep.
I know you’re thinking I’m insane and you’re frowning trying to make sense of this so-called trick; but it works for me every time. Just that sometimes I’m so deep in my stuff thinking about all the things that are making it hard for me to fall asleep, that I don’t remember to try the trick.
I haven’t come up with a trick for staying asleep yet. But I do believe there are plenty of things that I can do to try to help myself stay asleep. Here’s a list of ideas I’ve already come up with for myself
- Keep the room cool. Not too hot. Not too cold.
- Keep the room clean and uncluttered
- Keep the room free of strong scents and odors
- Use a humidifier if necessary to keep the room dust free
- Limit noise, including white noise
- If you share the room with someone and that person has habits that affect your ability to sleep (they snore, they smell, they turn on the lights at random times) consider not sharing a room with that person
- Find a sleep position that is comfortable for you where you can remain long in that position without having to toss and turn
- Experiment with pillows until you find one that doesn’t cause you to fight with it all night
- Find the right attire. It matters how comfortable you feel in your sleeping clothes
- Meditate half hour before bedtime, or otherwise try to clear your mind so that you’re not thinking about all your problems while in bed
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress
- Go to sleep earlier. This way if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep for an hour or even two hours, once you do fall back asleep, you still have a chance of getting an adequate amount of sleep. This is especially true if you tend to wake up around the same time every day. Getting to bed as many minutes or hours earlier as the amount of time you tend to spend awake when you wake up in the middle of the morning could, at the end of the day, even out your sleeping time so there is not loss of hours.
How to fall asleep and stay asleep – suggestions from around the web
In the article 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips: How to Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep, author Stephanie Burke writes for Spine-Health.com 11 tips for helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. She calls her tips unconventional because at least a few of them are things you will find on lists of things you should not do if you are trying to fall asleep and stay asleep. Burke’s tips include such suggestions as “force your worries”, which she explains thusly:
If worrying kicks in just after you close your eyes or awakes you in the middle of the night, consider scheduling a daily “worry time” during the day. Choose a 15 minute period at the same time every day when you try to think of every possible worry, and then tell them to a trusted confidant or write them out in a journal. Getting your worries out during the day can help keep your mind from perseverating on them during the night.
Her other tips include taking Valerian, napping lightly every day, exercising intensely, trying out a more comfortable mattress, getting sunlight soon after you wake up in the morning, making your room colder, blocking out background noise, avoiding hot baths, matching your pillows to your sleep position and empowering yourself to reduce stress. You can read the full article here.
Here is another list that I found in a Huffington Post article with some of the same suggestions that I have made above for how to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. The article was written by Ellen G. Goldman back in August of 2014. She elaborates on each point in the list so you can read the article to read her points in greater detail.
- Get the number of hours of sleep each night you need to function optimally.
- Create a calming atmosphere in your bedroom.
- Make your bed in the morning.
- Reserve your bed for sleep and sex only.
- Create a calming nighttime ritual.
- Keep your bedroom cool at night.
- Avoid caffeine in the later afternoon and evening.
- Avoid late night workouts.
- Avoid alcohol and spicy foods in the late evenings.
- If an evening party or celebration finds you consuming wine or cocktails, drink plenty of water throughout the evening, and keep a water bottle by your bedside.
- Spend a few minutes creating your “to do list” and preparing for the next day.
- Keep a pad and pen by your bedside.
- If you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and find a relaxing spot to read.
- Eliminate or reduce afternoon naps to a maximum of 30 minutes
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day no matter how much sleep you had the night before.