- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Get Sleepy
In order to settle into a natural sleep schedule, you should be going to sleep only when you feel sleepy. For many people with insomnia, however, you may not feel sleepy at bedtime even though you are fatigued. This is a common problem that can make it very difficult to fall asleep.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself feel sleepy at bedtime. The following tips to get sleepy may be able to help you fall asleep more naturally at night. There is no one perfect solution for everyone, so you may want to try a few of these and perhaps use them in conjunction with other kinds of sleep therapy.
The Right Bedroom Environment for Sleep
A relaxing bedroom environment can make a big difference in how easy it is to fall asleep. Some simple steps can help to make your bedroom a better environment for sleeping. The primary rule to remember is that your bedroom should be a place designed for sleeping, with minimal distractions.
As much as possible, limit non-sleep activities you do in your bedroom. If you frequently watch TV or do work in your bed, for example, you will subconsciously associate your bedroom with those activities. If you only use your bed for sleeping, every time you get into bed, sleep is the only association your brain will form.
Other simple steps can reduce distractions that might prevent or interrupt your sleep. Make sure that you have sufficiently dark curtains or blinds over your windows so that bright light doesn’t wake you up too early in the morning. Other items that may create light, such as a phone or alarm clack, should be hidden from view. Having an alarm clock visible at your bedside table can actually be detrimental to your sleep.
If you habitually watch the clock while you try to fall asleep, you’re only building up anxiety about how much sleep you’re getting. Instead, turn your alarm clock so that you can’t see its face. If any sounds tend to disrupt your sleep during the night, try using a pair of earplugs or the sound of a fan to cover up the noise. Finally, if you can, set your bedroom to a slightly cooler temperature than what you have in your other living spaces (around 68°F is good for most people). Your core body temperature drops during sleep, and a room that’s too warm can stop it from dropping sufficiently.
Avoid Bright Lights
Our body’s natural sleep cycle is connected to the cycle of night and day outside. Light is one of the primary things that signals to our body whether it should be awake or sleeping. Blue light, in particular, makes us feel alert and awake. Blue light is present in sunlight, and it’s also present in many kinds of artificial lights, including TV screens, computer screens, phones, and indoor lighting. When you expose yourself to these light sources in the evening, your eyes associate them with daylight. This causes your body to slow down its production of melatonin, a hormone that is essential to promoting sleep.
This means that if you typically watch TV or use your computer right before going to bed, you’re making it harder for yourself to fall asleep. Do your best to minimize your exposure to bright lights in the hour or two before you go to bed. Instead of watching TV, try reading a book, listening to music, or playing a board game. Try to limit your time on your phone close to bedtime as well. You can help even more by dimming lights around your home close to when you’re going to bed. This will help to tell your brain that it can relax and keep melatonin production up.
Eating Habits to Facilitate Sleep
What you’re eating and drinking can also affect your sleep. As you probably already know, caffeine can make it much harder to fall asleep. You should avoid all foods that contain caffeine, such as coffee, black tea, and dark chocolate, after the morning. Caffeine can stay in your system for hours, so if you have insomnia, it’s a good idea to avoid it as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol late in the evening.
Alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, but it’s likely to make you wake up in the middle of the night. You should finish drinking any alcoholic beverages early enough that your body can metabolize all of them before you go to sleep. Heavy meals in the evening may also make it harder to fall asleep.
Foods that are rich in protein and fat take a long time to digest. This makes them good for providing energy during the day, but they can keep your body active too late if you eat them in the evening. Try to make your dinner a lighter meal and avoid really rich foods and heavy proteins. If you’re looking for a snack to help you fall asleep, a cup of caffeine-free tea or warm milk can help you to feel relaxed before bedtime.
Other Tips to Get Sleepy
If you’re looking for more ways to bring on drowsiness, there are a number of other things you can do. Try taking a warm bath or shower before going to bed. The heat can help to physically relax your body, plus time in the bath is time away from electronics and bright lights. Try taking your bath by candlelight instead of lighting up the whole room.
A bath also helps you by causing your body’s temperature to rise and then drop. This temperature drop helps your body to get ready for sleep. There are also a number of relaxation techniques you can practice before bed to relieve yourself of stress and relax both physically and mentally. You might try progressive muscle relaxation to thoroughly relax your entire body, or try meditation to move your mind into a peaceful state. These techniques can be a great way to ease tension and anxiety, which often make sleep more difficult.