With a third of adults achieving just five to six hours of sleep out of a recommended eight, we’re in the midst of a sleep crisis. Much of the time, it’s not that you don’t want to sleep but rather that you just can’t. You lie in bed and wait, but nothing happens. If you experience this situation often and want a way out, then this guide is for you. Achieving positive sleep habits isn’t easy. It takes time, effort, and patience. If you’re wondering what to do when you can't sleep, then here are a few tricks you can try as a way to overcome sleepless nights.
Get Up and Move
It sounds counterintuitive but moving around a bit when you can’t sleep may help. The truth is, you can’t force yourself to sleep. It may simply be that you’re not ready to drop off yet. Therefore, you should begin by getting out of bed and moving to a new room. Do a non-screen-related activity like taking a short walk, doing yoga, or reading a book. Avoid food, caffeine, or anything else that’ll give you an extra burst of energy.
Half an hour is usually a good amount of time to start with. Once this has passed, you can go to bed and try again. In many cases, your body clock will now be ready to drift off to dreamland. If you just lie there, then your body will be resting and, therefore, not getting more tired. If you get up and move about a bit, then you’ll be expending any unreleased energy, leaving you more tired so you can fall asleep faster.
As a general rule (and if possible), try to avoid your bedroom if you’re not tired. You need to create a strong link in your mind between your bed and falling asleep. This crucial connection won't be made if you’re hanging out there during the day. The same principle applies if it’s late, but you just don’t feel tired. Leave that area and come back when you do.
Create a Cooler, Darker Environment
Since you’re not sleeping, you’ve got a bit of time to kill. What better way to spend this time than by optimising your sleeping environment? There are two main ways to do this: make it cooler and make it darker. If you can do this, then you’ll be giving your body the best chance of achieving rest the next time you get into the sheets.
Circadian rhythms control your wake and sleep cycles. These rhythms are dependent on body temperature. During the day, your core temperature will be around 37°C, but two hours before it’s time to sleep, the release of melatonin begins to bring this down. That drop in core body temperature makes you feel sleepy. You can help this along by opening a window or switching on a fan or AC. It’s recommended that you keep your bedroom temperature between 15.6°C to 19.4°C.
Known as the ‘hormone of darkness’, melatonin is produced in response to dark environments. Therefore, you can speed up its production by blocking out as much light as possible. Put up new curtains, unplug electronics, and consider putting on a sleeping mask. Once you’ve done this, your senses will send signals to the brain to ramp up melatonin production and naturally bring you towards a peaceful sleep.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
So you’re tired and have created optimal sleep conditions, but you’re probably still wondering what to do when you can't sleep. You can’t force yourself to drop off, but mindfulness meditation is one thing you could try. This is a healthy habit to adopt anyway but doing it before bed is an excellent way to relax and help calm a racing mind.
Anxiety is a common cause of insomnia because it keeps your mind racing when it needs to shut off. Meditation can help you tune into your body and separate yourself from your anxious thoughts. Some studies have shown that regular meditation actually decreases the size of the amygdala, the part of the brain that produces emotions like fear, stress, and anxiety.
Meditation isn’t easy because the brain is wired to look for distractions at almost any given moment. However, you can use meditation apps that are designed to hold your focus, taking it away from anxious or stressful thoughts. Forget about your work deadlines, relationship problems, and upcoming events. Learn to focus on your breathing instead and help your mind drift into a pleasant sleep.
Take Natural Supplements
In order to give your body a gentle helping hand, you can try natural sleep supplements. Look for supplements that have been specifically designed for enhancing sleep. For instance, Neubria Drift has a carefully selected combination of ingredients that can lull you into a more relaxed state. First off, there’s L-Tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin which balances the mood and leads to increased melatonin production. Next, lemon balm and hops are used to soothe the nervous system, lowering the discomfort of indigestion. Other ingredients, like vitamin D and folic acid, are used to replenish deficiencies that have been linked to sleep deprivation.
Getting your sleep habits right is never easy. Maybe you had a late-night snack, a stressful day at work, a traumatic event that was out of your control, or you were too busy to exercise. Perhaps you live in a noisy apartment where the light from the street floods in. We all live with pressures on our sleeping habits that are hard to overcome. That’s why taking a natural supplement might be the best way to naturally restore healthy levels of rest.
We’ve all been in a situation where our minds just won’t shut down and go to sleep. The next time you’re wondering what to do when you can't sleep, try implementing the tips listed above. There’s no single quick-fix solution to sleeplessness. All you can do is try your best to form good habits, using natural supplements for an extra boost.