Last week, we started talking about some tips for how to fall asleep and stay asleep. Today we’re going to cover those last few tips that can help you sleep like a baby.
Turn down the lights
When it’s night time, and the lights are still on in your home, your brain thinks it’s still daytime outside, and won’t tell your body to go to bed. Try dimming the lights approximately 45 minutes before going to bed. This also means avoiding using your laptop or mobile phone too close to bedtime. Flat screens like those on laptops and mobile phones use a short-wavelength blue light. The receptors in your eyes actually interpret this “blue light” as a mid-day sun, no matter how dim you have your screen. So put down those mobile phones and laptops before bed as well. If you must use your laptop before bed, try downloading a programme called f.lux onto your computer. It works to counteract the blue light around dusk by tinting your screen to mimic the sun setting.
The bed is ONLY for sleep and sex
That’s right, I said it. No reading in bed, surfing your phone in bed, watching TV, or surfing the internet. You can do those things in your bedroom, but NOT while laying in bed. When we do other things in bed, it send the message to our brain that the bed is for things other than sleep, which can make falling asleep difficult. When the only thing your bed is used for is sleep, your brain will automatically send the message to your body that it’s time for sleep once you enter the bed.
Avoid Racing Thoughts
If you find that as you’re about to fall asleep, all you can do is think about stressful things, I have just the exercise for you. For 10 minutes before bed (and NO longer than 10 minutes), write down everything that pops into your head and then rip it up throw it away. This allows you to get what’s on your mind out of your head both physically and metaphorically. You should find that your mind has calmed down afterwards.
Tossing and Turning? Get out of bed
If you find that you’re still tossing and turning, don’t just stay in bed. This is going to build up that association in your brain that the bed is a place where you are stressed and can’t sleep. If about 20 minutes has passed (and do not look at the clock, because then you definitely won’t fall asleep), then get out of bed and do something that tends to make you drowsy. Perhaps it’s reading a book, doing Sudoku, or listening to classical music. Go do that activity until you feel tired again, and then go lay back in the bed. Repeat this as many times as necessary. Although your first few nights will be tough, your body will thank you in the long run.
Still having a hard time falling asleep? Feel free to post your sleep questions below to get responses for even more tips!
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.