Do you ever have problems going to sleep? At some point in our lives we all have a few nights where we can not seem to fall sleep or stay sleep. There are numerous reasons why we have problems sleeping including stress, medical problems, not enough exercise, a busy mind, drugs, and of course noisy surroundings. There are many healthy ways to help you fall sleep and sleeping medicines should only be used as a last resort. Most sleeping pills have lingering effects the next day so most likely requiring lots of caffeine to get you started but then that makes it difficult to sleep the next night and an endless cycle begins.
1) Calm the mind with meditation – One of the primary reasons many of us having trouble sleeping is because our mind is too busy or too stressed. One of the best ways to calm the mind is with meditation. Simply focus your mind on your breath. Each time the mind wonders away from the breath bringing your focus back to the breath. After about 15-20 minutes the mind usually begins to calm down allowing you to fall sleep.
2) Glass of red wine – Just about anything you read about improving your sleep will tell you to avoid alcohol completely. I disagree. Yes too much alcohol prevents you from getting the right kind of sleep. Also despite overindulgence in alcohol will make it really easy to fall sleep (aka pass out) many times you'll wake up repeatedly as the alcohol wears off. However, one drink will many times help you relax enough that it will improve your sleep. The key is to keep it at one drink only. Red wine is the best choice because not only does it help you relax but it's also really good for you. There are numerous studies showing the health benefits of drinking a glass of red wine every day. It's best to do this although on the early side several hours before bedtime, sometimes with dinner, so the alcohol has time to get out of your system before trying to go to sleep. Nightcaps are not recommended. Remember the key is to use it to relax well before bedtime and not to actually fall sleep.
3) Listen to calming music – Yoga and meditation themed music are usually your best bet for calming music. Also nature themed sounds, like humpback whale songs, work great at relaxing the mind. There are also guided meditation platforms that may work for you including many that are specifically targeted at helping you fall sleep.
4) Herbal sleeping aids – Although pharmaceutical sleeping medications should only ever be used as a last resort there are many herbal sleeping aids available that are safe to use daily. There are numerous natural herbs that are thought to improve sleep, including chamomile, valerian root, lemon balm, kava kava, lavender, passionflower, and St.. John's Wort.
5) Exercise – Getting plenty of daily exercise can do wonders for your ability to sleep better. As little as 15-20 minutes of exercise can help you sleep better. The key because is to do it earlier in the day otherwise your increased energy state from exercising will make it difficult to fall sleep. Exercise is great at relaxing the mind and reducing stress which has a direct impact on your quality of sleep.
6) Read something – Reading something before bed is probably one of the most common things that people do to help them fall sleep. That's because it works.
7) Listen to an audio book – Personally I'm not a huge fan of audio books but my wife loves them and uses them on a regular basis to help her fall sleep. An iPod with earphones are great for this purpose and they're small and durable enough to just have in the bed with you. Of course, you may wake up in the middle of the night to some random person talking.
8) Turn on a loud fan – Turning on a loud fan is not only great at blocking out external noise (because they not only create noise but move the air making sound travel less efficiently) but they also help a lot of people (including me ) to relax the mind. Just focus on the non-changing sound of the fan to help you fall sleep easier.
9) Watch some television – If you're having problems letting go of things and your mind is too busy sometimes watching a little television will help you relax. A lot of people find watching television puts them to sleep. It's probably best to watch something that you're not really all that interested in, and you do not want to start watching a long movie that keeps you up even longer. Be sure to keep the lights off while watching TV to help you fall sleep easier. Do not worry watching TV in the dark is not at all bad for your eyes.