Last Updated: May 24, 2018.
You could be… Laying in bed reading this post. You could be… On a bus home and anxiously worrying about how your sleep will be tonight. You could even be stressing about your sleep after waking up. In this article, we go through 10 things you can do to help you fall asleep when you’re not feeling tired.
Figuring out how to fall asleep when our lives is so busy is not easy. It’s stressful and can make you anxious throughout the day. Finding yourself falling asleep during the day, while at work, around family, friends, or your children or while behind the wheel can be frightening and alarming.
50-70 million Americans know what its like with troubles having a good night’s rest. I wrote this guide so you can have a better chance of falling asleep. Or at least different ideas to try out.
First off, if you are or believe you are suffering from insomnia, call your doctor, book an appointment, and tell them about your problems. I’m not a doctor and everybody is different. However, if you want to take a shot, continue reading for the things that make you tired.
You deserve a well rested sleep. Trying out these 10 things that will make you sleep.
Ten Best Practices To Help You Fall Asleep When Not Tired
Practice bedtime deep breathing exercises
Also known as relaxation techniques, any form of deep breathing where you take bigger breaths in and out can help you relax easier, sleep sooner, and sleep better.
One of the popular breathing techniques for sleepers comes from Dr. Weil called the 4-7-8 Relaxing Breathing.
In short, here are the four steps for his 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
- Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Slowly breath out through the mouth for a count of 8
- Repeat as many times as you need
There are other ways of breathing. You won’t have the same lung capacity as your next door neighbor. However, breathing is a tried and tested way to solve a lot of problems, including sleep. You’ll find breathing has many applications in various disciplines.
Physical exertion at the gym demands breathing in each reps. Even more important when you are having a cardio day (running, jogging, etc.).
Science tells us that deep breathing can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
Yoga practitioners never go a day without teaching their disciples the importance of breathing during each yoga pose. Maybe that’s why yoga is so effective for combating stress and improving the quality of your sleep and mood.
However you choose to breathe, deep breathing can ease you and your mind into a state that helps you fall asleep easier. That’s why it’s certainly the #1 thing you should practice before bed.
Use your nose with scented candles and aromatherapy oil
Something about the gentle flicker and dim light of a flame with a pleasant scent from good candles help ease the mind.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that certain smells may play a role in your sleep. Lavender especially has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, placing you in a more relaxed state for an easier transition into sleep.
In one study, researchers monitored the brain waves of subjects at night and found that those who sniffed lavender before bed had more deep sleep intervals and felt more vigorous in the morning. Deep sleep is what gives you a good night of rest, so the more the merrier.
It also helps if you changed your bed sheets every now and then. The scent of fresh bed sheets can make sleep much more exciting and enticing. You can wash your bed sheets once a week.
Aromatherapy scented oils also offer scents to help you sleep, without the need for any fire.
Level environmental noise with a white noise machine
If candles aren’t your thing, perhaps a white noise machine can help. Aside from your nose, your ears can also play a role in better sleep.
There might not be much you can do about a noisy neighborhood, but you can help alleviate the disruption that sudden spikes of noise level can do to your sleep.
How does white noise help?
One group of scientists conducted a study at a critical care unit of a hospital. Sleeping in an environment where people are constantly moving around isn’t easy.
The study found that patients with white noise sleep more and much better than without. White noise help mask other noises from the environment by maintaining a more consistent level of sound.
So if you find yourself constantly bothered by noise every night, turn on a fan in your washroom or download a smartphone app for white noise. You can also purchase a white noise machine that is made especially for sleep.
Choose good pillow for your neck
Protect your neck. It’s something you hear from time to time because it’s what connects your brain to your body.
One important thing that people often neglect is having the right pillow during sleep. Not having the most optimal pillow can really affect your sleep because it affects your cervical curve which, when straightened, can cause a whole world of problems.
The solution? Using the right pillow. The pillow can’t be too thick or too flat otherwise your neck is too straight or angled. They also should be too soft or dense otherwise your neck can get stiff.
You can check out our buyer’s guide on the best pillow.
Get rid of light-emitting electronic and use a sleeping mask
Light affects the way you behave throughout your 24-hour day. Your body always work to balance its internal environment (hormones, body functions, brain activity, etc.) with its external environment (daylight, temperature, stressors, etc.). Light, as an external source, can affect your sleep by making your mind and body more alert.
Some poor sleep habits that are commonly practiced that unwittingly expose you to light every night are:
- Checking emails and messages on smartphones before bed
- Watching TV or Netflix and YouTube on tablet or laptop while in bed
- Continuing to work on the computer too close to bedtime
By exposing yourself to these sources of light, you suppress a chemical called melatonin (sleep chemical) from being released by your brain to help you fall asleep. So turn off your computer, get rid of your smartphones, throw away your TV remote. You don’t want to unwittingly keep yourself awake.
However, if you are unlucky and your environment has too much light (trying to sleep while on a flight, for example), try on a sleeping mask. They block out light from all directions leading to your eyes. It can also be a great habit to habitually put on your sleeping mask when you go to sleep as part of your shut down routine. Your brain will learn to associate sleep when you put on your sleeping mask.
Some people may find it slightly uncomfortable with the feeling of the mask wrapped around your head, ears and hair, but it’s when you need it the most when the sleeping mask comes in handy.
Keep your feet warm with warm socks
Everyone, healthy or not, has difficulty sleeping from time to time. But the difficulty of sleeping that you don’t need is being kept awake or woken up by cold feet.
If you ever jump into bed and notice your feet is cold, then you get it.
It would a great thing to have warm socks for sleeping because warm feet help you fall asleep faster. Heat loss from the dilation of blood vessels in the skin of your hands and feet increases heat loss. It’s normal for your body to cool down as you fall asleep, but too cold and it keeps you up.
The unsexy solution? Wearing socks.
For best selling socks for men, click here.
For the ladies best selling socks, click here.
You can use regular socks that you wear day to day, or you can splurge on a pair of luxurious plush socks, such as cashmere, for bedtime. Wool, fleece, or down socks are great as well. Any is good as long as your feet is warm.
Blow bubbles, seriously
Can you believe it? It sounds a little ridiculous, but blowing a few bubbles right before bed can help you fall asleep faster. It’s like a deep breathing exercise to help you calm your mind and body by focusing on the little things. In this case, breathing by blowing the bubbles.
It can also bring a soothing sensation as you reminisce of this pastimes.
You can find real bubbles to blow that you can later pop or pretend to blow bubbles. Whichever you choose, sit upright in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and blow bubbles until your heart’s content!
Melatonin for inducing sleep
As you near your usual bedtime and become tired, that’s your brain naturally producing a chemical called melatonin to make you tired. However, sometimes the process is hindered in ways you can’t prevent, such as flying to another time zone or being in a noisy or brightly lit environment.
Although melatonin may not solve every case of insomnia or sleeping problems, having supplements when you are having some difficulty falling asleep is useful.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests taking anywhere between 0.2 mg to 5 mg of melatonin before bedtime.
If you’re looking for the best medicinal sleeping aid with melatonin, you can find a few good options by clicking here.
Sleep journal for whatever is keeping you up
Sometimes, it isn’t so much the noise, lighting, or lack of melatonin that is stopping you from sleeping. Our brain is built with millions of neurons that are firing off constantly to help us get through our day.
When it comes to falling asleep, you might be ready for bed, but not be mentally finished with your day (or what will happen the next day). This is where journaling comes in handy.
There are a lot of benefits of journaling. From managing anxiety to coping with depression, journaling can help you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. Having a sleep journal can give you a great source of positive pep-talk for yourself, or to pick your brain and solve problems more effectively. Solving or working on problems clarify what’s going on and help reduce stress so you can sleep a little easier.
The next time you have trouble falling asleep, take out a pen, your sleep journal and write away. I recommend a dedicated journal used only when you’re about to fall asleep.
You can find the best selling journals and notebooks by clicking here. Moleskine Classic notebooks are great. You can also find a hard cover Moleskine Classic notebook to protect your journal from damage.
Consider replacing your mattress
Last but not least, sometimes after trying everything, you might still have trouble sleeping. It may not be appealing to your wallet, but when push comes to shove, you should consider replacing your mattress.
Mattresses as an investment can last for years. You don’t want to keep suffering every night, so if your mattress is bothering you, replace it.
New beds can also increase your sleep quality and reduce back discomfort.
Think of it this way: a third of your life is spent sleeping. To put it into perspective, if you sleep for 9 years on the same mattress, you probably spent literally 3 years laying on that same mattress.
Most people replace their mattress anywhere between 5 to 10 years. If your mattress is doing great for you, you can replace it after 8 to 10. Otherwise, 5 to 7 years is a reasonable time to replace your mattress.
Your body changes every 7 years. It’s normal for a mattress to feel uncomfortable after some time.
Here are a few buyer’s guides to help you pick the right mattress: