Everyone has the occasional sleepless night but some people have trouble falling or staying asleep night after night - and that can take a major toll on your energy levels, health, and happiness!
No matter what your level of trouble, there are many reasons why your brain has trouble switching to sleep mode. If this happens more than a few nights per month and you don't have any significant events, you may be making small mistakes that lead to problems falling asleep. Check out the six most common mistakes that keep you awake at night and give you tips for falling asleep fast.
Of course, sometimes you can't sleep because you're sad, nervous, or excited. Yet on normal nights, falling asleep shouldn't take more than 15 to 30 minutes.
Common Sleep Mistakes
- Stop drinking coffee after noon. It's common to fall into the afternoon slump right around 3:00 p.m. Instead of getting a cup of coffee, however, reach for an energy bar or a piece of fruit. These options will give you the pick me up you need without putting extra caffeine in your system. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, which may be why you feel restless and unable to shut your brain off when it is time for bed.
- Don't share your bed with your pets. While it is definitely nice to have a cuddle buddy, pets don't sleep the same way humans do, and most likely, they won't sit still all night. When they move around, jump off the bed or bark, your sleep pattern will be disturbed, whether you're already asleep or right on the brink of a REM cycle.
- Get out of bed if you can't sleep. While it may seem odd, staying in your bed when you can't sleep isn't going to help you. Tossing and turning only makes you more anxious about not falling asleep. Move to the living room and read a book or take a slow walk around the house.
- Avoid technology before bed. Part of what gives our brain the clue that it is time for sleep is darkness. Visual stimuli like televisions and tablets take away that cue from your brain. The blue-green light emitted from these screens decreases the release of Melatonin which is what helps you fall asleep. Turn off your technology at least an hour before bedtime.
- Don't sleep late on the weekend: Pushing back bedtime on Friday and Saturday and sleeping in the next day doesn't actually help you catch up on sleep. In fact, experts have identified this as "social jet lag," which resets your internal clock, making Monday (and Tuesday) more difficult.
- Schedule time for sleep: You need to make time for sleep, just like you make time for the gym or dinner with friends. If you plan sleep into your daily routine, not only will your mind not be anxious about not getting enough sleep, but your body will get in a routine. This tells your brain that at 11:00 p.m., it should start winding down and preparing to relax.
Sleep should be one of the relaxing parts of life; don't let it cause you stress. Have a great way to fall asleep fast? Share the wealth!