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Can’t Sleep? These 9 Strategies Will Fix That

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Jessica
11.17.15

Newsflash: There's this crazy thing called a good night's sleep, and you may not be getting it!

Experts recommend 7-9 hours a sleep minimum, but most Americans are only getting about six hours a night. Ouch.

Change that tonight by conking out a few hours early! Here are nine concrete ways to make that happen:

1. Build a Routine

Fact: The human brain loves routine. To make your brain happy, build a bedtime routine to help you relax before you crawl into bed. Take a hot bath or do a little stretching. Your brain will begin to associate the routine with relaxing and you’ll slide into Lala Land without any extra effort.

2.  Read a Really Boring Book

Finnegan's Wake may not have done much for you back in school, but it can help you out now! Grab a copy of the most uninteresting book you can imagine. Russian epics, mechanical engineering manuals and anything related to quantum theory are good options. Read a couple pages anytime you’re having trouble sleeping. Your brain will conk out just to make the boredom stop. Here are three of our favorite, incredibly uninteresting tomes:

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Mellville (skip to chapter 56 if you get interested by accident)
  2. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
  3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

3. Or, Write Your Worries Away

Worry doesn’t help anybody, but that doesn’t mean it won’t keep you up until 3 AM if you let it. Instead of spinning yourself into a ball of anxiety throughout the night, write your worries down before you crawl into bed.

Then, keep the notepad next to your bed. If anything else pops into your mind as you’re trying to fall asleep, write the thought down and promise yourself you’ll deal with it the next day.

4. Relax Your Muscles

Sometimes your muscles just need to be reminded how great it feels to relax. So, tense your muscles one at a time for five seconds, and then release them. Tip: We recommend starting at your toes and moving up your body.

5. Re-Imagine Your Day in Quick Flashes

This is a tip we picked up from a cool site called Headspace, which focuses on meditation and mindfulness. They have a “sleep” session that guides you through this quick exercise:

Take 20 or 30 seconds to mentally walk yourself through the major points of the day you’ve just finished: waking up, eating breakfast, commuting, etc. Continue until you’re imagining yourself getting into bed. It’ll wind your mind down.

6. Breathe In, Breathe Out

Even if you can’t twist yourself into a pretzel, you can try some basic yoga relaxation. First, get into a comfortable position in bed. Then, close your eyes and mouth. You’ll want to breath through your nose only. Breathe in for four counts. Hold your breath for two counts. Then, breath out for six slow counts. Hold your breath out for two counts. Then, repeat the breath slowly until you drift into sleep.

7. Cover Up Distracting Noises

Unless you live in a secluded cabin, the world around you probably doesn’t go silent for you at bedtime. You can’t prevent nighttime noises, but you can cover them up with white noise from a smartphone app or white noise machine.

8. Embrace Lavender

Lavender is proven to reduce insomnia and anxiety, so learn to love this purple flower! You don’t even have to have the real deal to reap the benefits; you’ll get the same sleep benefits from lavender spray or extract. Tip: Spray it on your bed linens when you take them out of the wash!

9. Get Out of Bed

If all else fails, stop trying to fall asleep. Seriously. If you’re still wide awake after 30 minutes of lying in bed, get up and do something else! If you stay in bed when you’re energized like that, you’re basically training your brain that “bed equals awake.”

Note: We don’t recommend going and doing jumping jacks or something. Try a restful activity like reading or meditating. Then give sleep another shot in 30 minutes or an hour.

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