Sleep is a beautiful thing. It refreshes your mind, refills your energy supply, and can leave you feeling overall relaxed and ready to take on the world. Sometimes, however, it seems just out of reach...close enough to see but not close enough to touch, teasing us with a promise of things that never seem to come. I've been there, and I am sure most, if not all of you have to at some point or other. Here are a few things that I have discovered help me to fall into sleep's sweet embrace and I hope that they might help you, as well.
Keep as much light out of your room as possible.
If your room is brightly lit, you may find it hard to go to sleep and stay asleep. Your body wants to rest but your brain is screaming, "No, it's still light outside. You should be doing stuff." So turn off all your lights, close the blinds, pull the curtains, and submerge yourself in the darkness. If you can't make your room as dark as you want, a simple sleeping mask can also help by reducing light that you are able to see by covering your eyes. Yes I am talking about those cloth eye covers you see movie stars wearing to bed in older films. They really can work, and you will eventually adjust to the feeling of having one on until you won't even notice you are wearing it (aside from, you know, when you open your eyes and still can't see). If you have laptops, cell phones, or any other electronics that cause light in your room, turn them off and/or unplug them.
Don't be checking messages/social media before bed.
We live in a world of instant messages, apps that can do almost anything, video games, any video you could ever want to watch just a click away, and social updates every five seconds...but when you are trying to fall asleep, these things can be a disaster. You will get online to check your messages, telling yourself , "I'll just see if anyone sent me anything important," then you will see a funny meme or video and 50 clicks later you've spent five or six hours watching comedy videos and looking at memes about the most random stuff imaginable. That video game you think, Oh, I will just play one quick level then go to bed. Don't kid yourself. You will beat that level then go, one more couldn't hurt, and before you know it, your alarm clock is buzzing and you have to start your day without ever having actually went to bed. Even if you are tossing and turning in bed, you must resist the urge to get up and watch television, play on your phone, laptop, or tablet. You will only make it where you will be awake even longer if you do.
Read a relaxing book.
Read a book. Nothing with a lot of excitement or action in it, just something relaxing that you will feel calm and peaceful after reading a chapter or two. It's nice to curl up under the covers, get nice, warm, and comfy while you read a couple chapters of a good book as long a you make sure it is a book you can put down when it is time to turn the lights out and not be thinking of what is going to happen next in the story. It doesn't have to be boring by any means, just something that is relaxing to read and won't have your mind racing afterwards.
A Nice, Hot Cup of Herbal Tea
You know what would go really well with that book you are reading while snuggled up under your sheets? A nice, hot cup of herbal tea. Personally, I like spice, tea, or jasmine tea best for before bed, but chamomile and lemon grass are good too, especially since chamomile is literally supposed to help you sleep. If you decide not to read a book, you can still enjoy a fresh hot cup of tea to help settle your nerves and relax your mind. It is even better on cold winter nights. The warmth from the tea will add to the warm, cozy feeling you need to fall asleep. Whatever tea you choose though, make sure it is caffeine-free before drinking it, otherwise it could have the opposite effect and cause you to be more awake than before.
A Nice, Long Bubble Bath
Taking a nice, long bubble bath can help you to relax your muscles and mind. Light a few candles, fill the tub with warm water and lots of your most relaxing scented bubble bath. Lavender/vanilla/other floral scents/and milk and honey scents are my go to for bed time baths, like when you shower in the morning, the scent you choose can help get your mind in the right place for your desired results. Try to avoid using scents that remind you of waking up, and stick to scents that make you think of rest and relaxation. You can add a face mask to your routine as well if you feel like pampering yourself. Peel off mask or wash off mask, either way you go, they are easy to do while you soak away your worries in the tub and can make you feel almost as if you are at a spa.
Don't go to bed hungry.
Make sure you have eaten supper /dinner before you go to bed. You should never go to bed hungry because it will be hard to fall asleep if your stomach is screaming "FEED ME" at you all night. You may be thinking, but I don't get any exercise while I'm sleeping, won't that make me gain weight? Not if you don't over do it. Just like any other meal, you shouldn't gain weight just because you ate something before going to bed. If you are still worried about gaining weight from eating before you go to bed, then remember: it doesn't have to be a large meal. You can eat a light meal, or a healthy meal of fruits and vegetables and still get full. The point is to not wake up in the middle of the night with a growling belly because you are hungry and have to inevitably go get yourself a snack anyways to settle it back down. If you eat before going to bed, you are much less likely to wake up for a "midnight snack" later on.
These are just some of the ways I have discovered that help me to fall asleep and stay asleep. I sincerely hope they will help you too. Every person is different though, so if you try one of these things and it works perfectly and you don't want to try the others, that's OK. If you try a combination of them and they work, that's good too. If you try them all and nothing works, don't feel bad. As I said, every body is different, and what works for one may not work for all. You will find what works for you... just keep looking.
To see my tips on what to do after a great night's sleep when you have to wake up the next morning but you just don't want to, check out my other article: "5 Ways to Start Your Day."