Sleep is something we all need and rely on to get through the day, so why is it something we also take so much for granted? When we’re sleeping well, it isn’t something we really think about; when we are struggling, we pressure ourselves to push through. It isn’t until we “crash” that we realize the importance of it for both mental and physical health.
Good, consistent sleep is crucial to so many parts of your health and life, so if you’re regularly struggling to fall asleep or get restful sleep, try these tips and see your sleep schedule improve.
Keep a schedule. It may seem unreasonable to sleep the same time frame every day, but the closer you can get to it, the better your sleep will be. If you’re constantly heading to bed at a completely different time and waking up at all hours depending on the day, your body is going to struggle to find any sort of schedule, and will start having trouble falling or staying asleep as a result. The Mayo Clinic recommends setting aside no more than eight hours for sleeping (most adults need about seven, but follow your body), and then try your best to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, or within an hour. This will add consistency and make your sleep better.
Don’t lie sleeplessly in bed for hours. If you can’t fall asleep in about twenty minutes, get up and do a restful activity. The best options are things like reading a bit of a book, meditating, or listening to quiet music. If you find your mind ruminating over your to-do list, keep a pen and pad of paper by your bed to write down anything that needs your attention the next day. The more you can get it out of your mind and on paper, the better you will feel. Avoid watching TV or hopping on your phone. Once you’re tired again, try to fall asleep then. Repeat if needed. But don’t lay in bed for hours upon hours sleeplessly, without doing something calming to help you along.
Start practicing healthy mental strategies. A more unexpected approach to getting more sleep is to practice and focus on self-compassion, mindfulness, forgiveness, and gratitude. Many opposite emotions like self-doubt, distraction, anger, and frustration can clog up your thoughts as you try to sleep, keeping you from falling asleep or sleeping peacefully. Doing simple exercises, like the ones recommended by Greater Good here, can help you take on these mental qualities and sleep so much better.