You know a good night’s sleep is the key to a happy and well-rested tomorrow. And getting enough shut-eye can help you drive more safely, maintain a healthy weight, and even lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. But if you’re stuck in a cycle of tossing and turning—and then start stressing about the fact that you’re tossing and turning—it’s all too easy to feel frustrated. Not so fast: With these tips you’ll be snoozing within minutes of your head hitting the pillow.
Set a Routine. If you get up early one morning and then sleep in the next, it can be hard to fall into a rhythm. For the 17 percent of Americans who do shift work, an erratic schedule may be part of the job. But if that doesn’t apply to you, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times every day can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Schedule Your Caffeine. Coffee (or tea or an energy drink) can keep you awake long after the last sip by boosting your adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. It takes about six hours for just half of the caffeine you drink to be processed, so keep that in mind when timing your last cup.
Power Down. The bright light during the daytime is a big part of what sets our circadian rhythm to keep us awake when the sun’s up (and asleep during the night). But the blue lights in many electronic screens like computers, tablets, and cell phones are so bright that they can interrupt your sleep—especially if you use them too close to bedtime.
Write Out Your Worries. Often, tossing and turning can be the result of not being able to lay the anxieties of the day to rest. Get them off your mind by putting them down on paper. Make a list of things that you know you need to deal with tomorrow so that you can forget them tonight.
Practice Relaxation. A simple progressive relaxation technique can do wonders when it comes to beckoning Mr. Sandman. As you lie in bed, squeeze your toes as tightly as you can, then allow them to relax completely. Continue up your body, tensing and relaxing your legs, your belly, your hands, your arms, and so forth.
Press Here. Try some easy acupressure tricks to help you nod off faster. Press your thumb into the spot at the top of your nose between your eyebrows for about 20 seconds. Then, move to your feet: Press on the indent between your big toe and second toe.
Can’t Sleep? Get Up. If you’re still sleepless after 15 to 20 minutes, hit the reset button. Get out of bed and go to another room. Try reading, making yourself a cup of herbal tea, or just sitting and relaxing (but resist the urge to check your e-mail or watch TV).
See a Doctor. While lifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for sleeplessness, if you’re still not getting enough rest after improving your bedtime routine and trying a variety of relaxation strategies, a physician may be able to help determine if your sleeplessness is merely a symptom of another health concern, and prescribe appropriate treatment.