As the days grow shorter and darker, it can be challenging to maintain a proper routine and a regular sleep schedule. When it’s late at night and you find yourself unable to fall asleep within a few minutes, you’re likely better off getting up and doing something that will relax you and prepare your mind and body for sleep rather than continuing to toss and turn.
First things first: Avoid anything too physically or mentally stimulating. Intense exercise may exhaust you, but it’s best to avoid doing that too close to bedtime. Likewise, remember to keep the lights dim and the tech powered down to avoid tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
Instead, pick a couple of the following things to try. These are relaxing activities that almost anyone can do to help them fall asleep faster — and stay asleep!
Some gentle poses can help with insomnia. Poses like reclining hero pose, head-to-knee forward bend, bridge pose and cat/cow pose can be done right in bed!
Grab your journal or a blank piece of paper and a pen to write out what’s on your mind. You may just need to let those thoughts out in order to relax.
If it’s a clear night, go outside or sit by a window and gaze at the stars. See if you can spot the moon, the big dipper, or any other astronomical markers!
Read a Book
Reading can be surprisingly relaxing — as long as the subject matter isn’t work-related or too mentally stimulating. Remember to stay away from e-readers and pick up a real book.
Meditation is especially helpful when you’re holding onto physical tension or can’t seem to ignore all the crazy thoughts flowing through your mind. Do it long enough and you might just fall asleep before you finish!
Do a Body Scan
Speaking of meditation, it’s especially helpful to do a body scan meditation at the end of the day. Here’s how to do one.
Drink Herbal Tea
Resist the temptation to indulge in comfort food before bed and instead brew up a nice cup of hot, caffeine-free tea. Chamomile and lavender are a couple soothing herbs to try.
Listen to Calming Music
Music can be a great help in taking your mind off of distracting thoughts. Find out what music is best for falling asleep.
This is basically meditation, with a focus on the breath. In fact, you can breathe deeply in a very specific way to help induce sleep within as little as a minute.
Take a Bath
Baths are great for winding down after a long day and can help encourage mindfulness too. The feeling of warm water might be just what you need to get you to relax.
If physical clutter and messiness is calling your focus away from sleep, get up and do a bit of light cleaning or organizing. It might just tire you out and bring you some peace of mind knowing it got done.
While tea or a bath may help, sometimes the opposite is needed — a lower body temperature. Turn your thermostat down, ditch some of the blankets or pyjamas, and maybe consider leaving your window open a crack to let the nighttime breeze in.
If you share your bed with a partner and they’re not already sound asleep, take it as an opportunity to get intimate and show them some love.
If a body scan doesn’t work, maybe a massage will. You can massage yourself with some natural oils to help relieve tension from your body or get your partner to do it if they’re around and awake.
Finally, if you try all of the above and still find yourself wide awake, well, the last thing you can do is to just be grateful for this moment, and for all that you have. Gratitude always makes everything feel better.