Dear Jack: How Can I Fall Asleep?

Chapel Hill, NC – Lots of us have a hard time falling asleep at night but unfortunately it’s more common for some of us. If you are battling insomnia, here are a few handy tips that might be helpful.

What Your Bed Is Like

There are two pieces to fighting insomnia: your body and your bed. You know how much I like beds and mattresses so let’s start there. Most obviously, make sure you have a comfortable bed. If you have sheets, pillows or a mattress that is treating you badly, read some of our other articles for some advice. But temperature is also very important. If you’re too hot, you sweat; if you’re too cold, you shiver. Both will keep you awake so go for a nice balanced temperature, typically between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure your sleeping environment is free of lights, especially blue LED light. If you want to sleep well, don’t be in front of a computer, tablet or phone screen right before bedtime. If you have to use them, down the brightness and make sure your face is away from the screen.

And adding a pattern to your sleep can be a big help. Try and get up at the same time every morning, even if it is the weekend. Sleep scientists say this will get you into a rhythm that will help you get to sleep more easily.

What Are You Doing

Not drinking caffeinated drinks and treats before bed seems like a no-brainer, right? Right. But you should also avoid alcohol. While it will make you tired, it will not result in restful sleep and it is almost as bad as staying up all night. Instead, consider eating carbohydrates before bed such as toast or a banana, but stick to small quantities.

If you are exercising during the week, this will also help your sleep. Research has shown two-and-a-half hours of ordinary exercise or an hour-and-a-half of intense exercise each week will help your heart rate and make it easier to relax your body when the time is right.

You can also tire yourself mentally before bed. Writing, reading or doing math and puzzles can get your brain ready for some rest and relaxation and can make sleep come far more easily.

And finally, if you are battling insomnia, try not to remedy it with naps. That may seem like it makes the most sense but it can actually upset your sleep cycle. Instead, try doing some exercises.

But most of all, avoid stress. If there is something in your life causing you to stay awake at night, work to fix that so you can have a clear mind as you settle into your bed.

Photo by Alyssa Miller.

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