Everyone has difficulty sleeping from time to time, so if you feel like you’re tossing and turning all night, you’re not the only one. In fact, in a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of Americans reported that their sleep problems affected their daily activities one or more days in a row. You might have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. If sleep is crucial for optimal functioning and well-being, then why are so many people lying awake at night?
Reasons You Can’t Sleep
Sometimes, an inability to sleep may have to do with medical issues that should be checked by a doctor, but some of the more common non-medical reasons people can’t sleep include:
- Poor sleep habits
Many people experience stress and worry on a regular basis, so it’s no wonder that sleep problems are so common. Tossing and turning because you’re ruminating or anticipating potential future events only fuels stress and exacerbates sleep disturbances. But it’s basically impossible to just turn off an overactive mind through willpower. You can’t force yourself to sleep, and trying will likely only make matters worse.
So what can you do to increase your chances of catching some much-needed rest?
Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again: Your nighttime routine could be keeping you awake. If you engage in stimulating activities before sleep, such as watching the news or checking social media, you don’t allow your brain a chance to disconnect from the outside world. Give yourself at least 30 minutes before bedtime to unwind. Dim the lights and turn off distracting devices, such as TV, smartphones and tablets. Make sure your sleep environment is dark and peaceful and ensure that you only use your bedroom for sleep and sex. If you have trouble sleeping after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room and do something low-key and calming, such as reading or listening to soothing music.
Here are a few of the easiest relaxation techniques to try before bedtime:
This is a useful yet simple technique to help induce relaxation. Lie on your bed and take a few deep breaths as you focus your mind on your bodily sensations. Starting with your feet, clench each major muscle group for a few seconds, then release, working your way up to your legs, your torso, your arms, and your head. You can also find guided progressive relaxation exercises on platforms like YouTube.
Your imagination is more powerful than you might think. People who visualize being in their favorite peaceful place or picture themselves blissfully sleeping may have an easier time falling asleep. If you’re particularly worried about something, you might try visualizing that everything works out the way you want, instead of expecting the worst, which only intensifies tension and stress. While you can experience the benefits of visualization after as little as 10 minutes, it’s ideal if you can devote at least 20 minutes (or more) before bedtime to the following relaxation and visualization process. Lie down, relax your body using the progressive relaxation technique mentioned above, and then focus your mind on the situation that’s causing you worry. See yourself handling the situation confidently and competently. Imagine things working out and resolving in a positive and beneficial way. You’ll be catching restful zzz’s in no time.
Before bedtime, some people find it helpful to write down their worries on a piece of paper or in a journal to help empty their minds and relax. Avoid using your computer, tablet or smartphone, as it can be too tempting to engage in online activities (and the blue light coming from your screen may trick your brain into feeling like it’s still daytime). As you write your list, tell yourself that you will address any problems or issues the next day when your mind is fresh and alert.
Consider Natural Supplements
To give each of these behavioral techniques a boost, you may also want to add a natural sleep supplement into your bedtime routine. You can find many different artificial sleep aids in the drug store, but they can cause an unpleasant sleep hangover that can leave you with lingering drowsiness and grogginess. Nowadays, many people prefer to use sleep supplements that contain effective all-natural relaxants like CBD and melatonin.
In fact, clinical research has shown that CBD can be an effective way to calm your nervous system, reduce stress, and ease tension. Incorporating a melatonin and CBD shot, like B GREAT’s Relax Shot (which combines both CBD and melatonin), into your bedtime routine can be a beneficial way to relax, de-stress, and take the edge off. More calm and less stressed means you may be able to more easily drift off into a restful night’s sleep.
Additional Lifestyle Tips to Remember
Your daytime activities and general mindset can play important roles in your quality of sleep. For example, engaging in aerobic exercise (as long as it’s at least a few hours before bedtime) can help you sleep and increase wellbeing. Your daytime attitude can also be a factor — one study found that people who approached the day with an optimistic outlook had better quality of sleep. Try keeping a gratitude journal or cultivate a mindfulness practice; research has shown that these simple activities can promote a positive attitude and help reduce sleep problems.
Sleep shouldn’t cause you more stress – it should be a time for your body and mind to rejuvenate, restore and repair. Adopting a healthy sleep routine, using supplements wisely, and ensuring that your body and mind can fully relax should help you get a better night’s sleep. However, if you continue to have persistent difficulty sleeping that affects your ability to function for more than 3 weeks, it’s advisable to consult your physician, just to be on the safe side, so they can rule out any potential underlying health concerns and provide you with further advice.