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12 Things to Try When You Have Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep

By Brian Acton

If you frequently have trouble falling or staying asleep, you know a restless night can be particularly frustrating. A lack of quality sleep can also cause exhaustion, irritability, stress, and other mental and physical issues. Many factors could be contributing to your problem, so troubleshooting is important. Here are twelve things to try when you can’t sleep.
  1. Wind Down Before Bed
Your body needs time to unwind before bed. You could begin a relaxing routine - such as reading, listening to soft music, or taking a bath - an hour before bedtime every night. Eventually, your body may begin to associate these activities with sleep, helping you drift off quickly.
  1. Disconnect from Screens
The light produced by screens has been shown to reduce the production of melatonin, which regulates your sleep. Gadgets also keep your mind alert and late night notifications can wake you up. Avoid television, mobile devices, and other light-producing gadgets before bed.
  1. Don’t Force It
The more you concentrate on your inability to fall asleep, the more difficult it can become. Lying in bed awake can lead to frustration and cause you to associate your bed with wakefulness. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t force the issue - get up and do something relaxing for a bit.
  1. Maintain a Schedule
When you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, your body will develop a natural sleep rhythm. The quality of your sleep can also improve. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and resist the urge to hit the snooze button in the morning.
  1. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine’s effects can last up to six hours, making it harder to fall asleep. Don’t consume caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  1. Avoid Alcohol
While it may help you fall asleep initially, alcohol can affect your sleep quality and cause you to wake up throughout the night. If you want a good night’s sleep, lay off the booze.
  1. Block Outside Light
If your bedroom lets in too much outside light, you might want to invest in some blackout curtains.
  1. Exercise
Physical activity reduces stress and tires you out, making it easier to fall asleep. It can also improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Establishing a consistent exercise routine can also convey a number of other health benefits. Do try to avoid exercising right before bed, as it can lead to overstimulation when you should be winding down for the night.
  1. Stretch
Stretching can help limber you up and relax you to the point of drowsiness. Consider adding a stretching routine to your nighttime ritual.
  1. White Noise
If nighttime noises or dead silence keeps you awake, the white noise provided by a sound machine or fan may help.  However, keep in mind that you can easily develop a reliance on white noise to fall asleep.
  1. Check Your Bedding
Does your pillow provide the right amount of support? Is your mattress too firm or too soft? Are your bed sheets too heavy or warm? Make sure to analyze your sleeping situation. Your issues could be stemming from one source of discomfort.
  1. See a Doctor
If your problems persist, it may be time to see a doctor. Some medical conditions, including sleep apnea and chronic insomnia, may require medical treatment. Sources: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/pain-relief/the-step-by-step-guide-to-falling-asleep-that-actually-works/ https://sleep.org/articles/design-perfect-bedtime-routine/ https://sleep.org/articles/exercise-affects-sleep/
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