By Alyssa Andrews
We can all relate to those nights when you just cannot fall asleep. You lie in bed running through everything you didn’t get done for the day and everything you still have to do. As a current college student, I find myself making lists and not catching those zzz’s more nights than I would care to admit. However, I have found some techniques that help you to fall asleep faster without a sleeping aid.
By focusing on your breath, your mind is not focused on not being able to fall asleep. Breathe in through your nose for six counts and extend your belly, hold for three seconds and then release. I usually do this with my eyes closed. But if you need to have your eyes open and then close them, that’s fine too.
Another tool I use is the 5,4,3,2,1 method. Without having the TV or any music on your the room, start by thinking about five things you hear and feel. Once you’ve gone through the list at five, move to four things you hear and feel within the room, then three, then two, then finally one. Hopefully by this time you have fallen asleep.
Move to a different location
Sometimes your body just needs to readjust. Move to another bed, the couch or even the floor. However, if you move to a room where there is a TV, don’t turn it on.
Limit electronic use
The bright lights from your smartphone and TV cause eye stimulation and can actually make you stay awake. If you need noise to fall asleep, try turning on a fan. As much as I love falling asleep to my favorite Friends episode, I can definitely tell on how I feel in the morning if I left the TV during the night.
Limit caffeine before bed
Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee in the afternoon to warm us up on a cold winter day? I’m all about staying warm during these cold months, but if you are having a hard time falling asleep at night, it could be related to how much caffeine and how late you consume caffeine. It is recommended to not consume high amounts of caffeine after 3 p.m. to help in getting a good night’s sleep. I have to admit, I’ve pulled a few all-nighters lately and was drinking coffee until the wee hours!
Getting 60 minutes of activity in a day is still recommended, but exercising late at night or right before bed can affect your sleep. Try to workout at least four hours before you plan to hit the sheets. This way, your body has time to settle down.
Alyssa Stern of Alexandria is a busy mom and certified group exercise instructor teaching spin/cycling and high intensity interval training. Visit her blog at alyssajeanstern.blogspot.com.