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Why Can't I Get To Sleep? 10 Simple Steps To A Good Nights Sleep

Updated on June 22, 2015
Nell Rose profile image

Nell is a trained Psychologist and lives in London England. She has been writing since she was a child.

Can't Sleep
Can't Sleep

We all know the feeling at some stage in our lives. We go to bed feeling completely exhausted, but sleep just doesn't come. As we lay there tossing and turning in our beds, it seems that the more tired we get the more our brains decide to speed up and regurgitate every little detail of the day.

For some reason our thoughts just go round and round like a 3D film showing the same thing over and over again. My brain decides at three in the morning to have a party. What makes it even worse is the fact that it picks up on the most annoying song it can think of and keeps on strumming.

Any idea of sleep goes out of the window, and I lay there feeling more and more exhausted. The frightening thing is that the more tired I get, the more chance of experiencing some sort of sleep paralysis or really bad nightmare when I do drop off.

Over the years I have noticed many different factors that can start this bout of insomnia. Most of them my fault I have to add.

But there are a few things you can do to make sure that your brain knows when its time to sleep, so here's 10 ways that really help me to unwind so that I can drift of to nod land.

Sleep perchance to Dream

As shakespeare so aptly put it. It seems that even back then our sleep was a mysterious and sometimes annoying problem.

To Die to sleep.....

To sleep perchance to dream...ay there's the rub,

For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come'

William shakespeare

Skip the Exercise

1. First of all I have noticed that it doesn't make any difference to me whether the pillow is soft or hard. And even the type of bed doesn't necessary mean a good nights sleep.

The first thing you have to realise is that its all about your mind. If that is calm then you are on your way to dreamland.

So make sure that you stop doing anything strenuous at least half an hour before you go to bed.

If you are doing evening exercises then knock it on the head too late at night.

Your body will start to produce loads of adrenaline, and will trick your mind into thinking its the start of the day. Take it easy and relax by watching tv or just putting your feet up.

'But sleep in the long run, proves greater than all emotions'

Algernon Blackwood 'The Wendigo'

Computer Meltdown

2. Get off the darn computer! Its a well known fact that if you concentrate on your pc right up until the time for bed it will start your brain up like an engine! Facts, information, photos and chat will make your brain buzz like a bee on steroids! Cut it out!

I get it, we all like to keep in touch, reading, writing and just 'chatting., But you have to remember, your brain thinks its party time!

Just think of all the stuff floating around your cerebellum. Its a great big slushy mush of adrenaline, thinking, planning and just doing the conga! I know its hard to put it down, but please, trust me. Its one of the worse things to keep you awake.

'O sleep O gentle sleep

Nature's soft nurse

how have I frightened thee,

that though no more will

weigh my eyelids down

and steep my senses in forgetfulness?' William Shakespeare

Arguments Cause Stress A Big No No For Sleep

3. If you live with someone, and I guess that's most of us, don't start any arguments.

Even a raised voice can get the body into the flight and fight mode. And If you have friends around make sure that they go home at least an hour before bedtime.

Your brain needs to process the information, and start putting the thoughts into place. Chill out.

If you have something on your mind, say it there and then. You know the quote, never go to bed on an argument. That may be true for people who like to clear the air, but its also good for resting your mind so that you can drop of to sleep.

Otherwise your stress levels will be sky high.

Sort it out, say goodnight, then sit down and think things over for at least half an hour. When you feel that you have resolved the issues, or just planned your next move then you can relax.

Just Chill Out and Relax

4. Now this one may be obvious. Go take a bath. But here me out. Plunging into warm water may not do it by itself. Light a few candles, put on soft music and just wallow. You may find its better to just sit there and relax, but your mind will still keep churning on and on.

Throw some herbs into the bath, lavender or chamomile are the best. You don't have to put them in the water. I always make a small muslin bag and place the herbs inside. Tie it to your taps, or just let it float in the water. The relaxing and warming effect of the herbs will help to calm you, and the hot water will release the fragrance and help to activate the properties of the herbs.

If you can't find a muslin bag, a stocking will do! Just cut the stocking at the knee, place the herbs into the foot and then tie the top. Voila', one herbal bag.

Massage Yourself To Sleep

5. On the subject of herbs, why not give yourself a massage? You can either use aromatherapy oils or if you have loose herb teas you can make your own.

Just steep the herbs in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes, drain them off into a bowl and add either a small amount of body lotion or oil. As you massage your body the herbs you will feel your skin begin to warm up, and the scent will be delicious.

Lavender Pillow Trick

Placing lavender under your pillow is another old trick. The smell will begin to waft out as your pillow warms up. It sends a lovely aroma around you, and definitely makes you go to sleep. I have tried this many times.

Make a potpourri out of your herbs. If you can find lavender growing outside, dry it out for a few days, then just break it down and add to your other herbs. Place these around the room, as your room becomes warmer the smell is wonderful. I have three pots on my window ledge, shelf above my bed and on my bedside table. Lovely.

Easy on the eyes

6. Arrange your bedroom so that everything you see when laying in bed is colorful and calming.

There's nothing worse than getting into a nice warm bed only to see your clothes thrown on the chair, drawers half open and books or papers in disarray on your desk.

I know we turn out the light, but the last thing we see is the layout.

Place your bed near a window, but not too close because of possible drafts.

Don't clutter the space by the end of your bed. Leave it open and airy.

Maybe a picture on the wall showing a waterscape, or valley will help you to focus.

Its said that the longer you look at something keeping your eyes wide open, the quicker you will nod off.

This is a form of self hypnosis, and works very well.

Baby and Teddy Bear
Baby and Teddy Bear

Baby Let Me Be Your Lovin' Teddy Bear!

7. If you sleep alone a good idea is to either place a hot water bottle on your feet or behind your back, that's what I do.

It makes me so sleepy I often wake up with it still there. What about a teddy bear? I know, childish, but hear me out.

If we have something to cuddle it brings back memories of when we are children. A soft cuddly toy will calm you down and make you feel safe.

If your partner snores, or is a restless sleeper, try to keep to your side of the bed. Some people swear by going to sleep first, others wait until their partner is nodding off. Do whichever is best for you.

Reading helps you Relax

8. Read a book in or before bedtime. Even if you only manage to get through a few pages it will help your mind relax. The movement of your eyes on the page also helps as it has an hypnotic effect. Even better read a really boring book, after about five minutes you will find that you are reading the same words over and over again! Next second you will drop off.

Another good idea on the subject of books images or words, is to place a really good picture or photo by your bed. It can be anything from a lovely warm beach to a cool green forest. By placing these images in front of you, your mind will latch onto it and calm you enough to go to sleep. It is a great way to guide your mind into a lovely relaxing dream too.

How blessed are some people..... whose lives have no fears...

no dreads... to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly,

and brings nothing but sweet dreams....

Bram Stoker 'Dracula'

Mantra and visualisation

9. Learn a Mantra. So many of us try to nod off only to keep hearing those sounds, words and songs going round and round our brains. Learning a phrase, poem or word (Mantra) can guide your mind into that warm fuzzy state.

Practice this for about a week to give your mind a chance to understand that it has to relax.

Another Mantra type exercise is too picture one thing only. A flower, apple, tree or even something calming such as seeing yourself sewing.

The repetition of seeing the needle going in and out of the cloth can make your mind focus and block out the other thoughts and pictures. Trust me it works. My favorite is either 'seeing' a daffodil, or the sewing idea.

It does take a bit of practice, but eventually your mind will get to realise that this is a good way for you to switch of and go to sleep.

Have A Hug!

10. Last but not least, cuddle up to your man or woman! Seriously, there has been research over the years that show the fact that if you are listening to a heartbeat it can calm the mind. Just ask babies!

The idea is that it reminds you of when you were in the womb.

The rhythm of the breathing mixed with hearing the dull thud of the beating heart will take send you of to dreamland!

Apart from the fact that his or her lovely warm body will act as an insulating blanket!

So go on, snuggle up! Go to sleep, and wait for those dreams to happen.

(c) Copyright nell rose

Wise Words from a Great Man

I think the final words should come from that great writer Rudyard Kipling. It seems that he has the right idea about how to get a good nights sleep!

'I worked like a horse, and I ate like a hog and I slept like a dead man'

Do You Have Trouble sleeping? If so what Do You Do To Help You Get To Sleep?

See results

© 2013 Nell Rose


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