Have you ever had a night where you are exhausted but end up staying wide awake in bed, waiting for your alarm clock until it goes off? Difficulties falling or staying asleep isn’t an uncommon issue — far from it. According to Consumer Reports, a whopping 27 percent of American adults claim to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, most nights. Furthermore, 68 percent of respondents said that they face difficulties with sleep at least once a week. These are concerning numbers and shouldn’t be overlooked, due to how common or ‘normal’ the issue is.
Never forget that sleep is vital to the health of your body, allowing your system to heal and reset, before the next day.
If you’re one of the many adults who has trouble sleeping, and are instead left tossing and turning every night, then don’t ignore the situation. It’s important to prioritize your sleep, as it can have an impact on all other facets of your life — including your health. Don’t let yourself view sleep as a luxury, as this is far from the case.
Whether you feel guilty sleeping rather than working, or if you overthink at night and can’t fall asleep, we’re here to help. Here are some of our top tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Five Tips to Getting a Better Night’s Sleep, Tonight
1. Stop Scrolling on Your Phone and Turn Off the TV
You’ve probably heard this one many times before, yet many people simply don’t abide by it. After all, considering how integrated our tiny pocket computers can be in our day-to-day lives, it may be second nature to thoughtlessly begin scrolling through social media. Still, the truth is that this can seriously impair your ability to sleep, even more than you might realize.
Why is this, though? Well, both your cell phone and other screens (such as TV or computer screens) emit something known as blue light. When your brain is exposed to blue light, you’re effectively tricking it into thinking that it’s still daytime. Even if you’re unaware of this happening, late-night screen time is essentially forbidding your brain from powering down. Instead, it’s being continuously forced to power back up, whenever you’re entrenched in what’s on your screen. Your mind is effectively being told to keep you awake — obviously, this is incredibly counterproductive, if you’re trying to sleep better and fall asleep more easily.
Once the evening arrives, try to begin limiting your use of electronics. If you need something new to do that can actually help relax your mind and prepare you for sleep, consider picking up a book or going on a long, leisurely walk. Around an hour before bedtime, try to avoid electronic devices and screens, entirely. This way, you’re giving your brain the time it needs to power down and fall asleep with ease.
2. Cut Back on Caffeine, Alcohol, or Other Foods That Limit Sleep
This is another one that you’ve probably heard many times before, but still might not be taking all that seriously. So, it’s certainly a point worth reinforcing since it can take a genuine toll on your ability to fall and stay asleep.
To start, both caffeine and alcohol consumption can do significant damage to your sleep schedule, especially when consumed close to bedtime. If you can, try your best to either cut back on or cut out caffeine and alcohol, for the sake of better sleep. Keep in mind that the soda you might be having with dinner probably has caffeine in it as well! Caffeine can be sneaky…
If you regularly partake in a glass of wine at dinner or sometime in the evening, you could be fooled into thinking this will help you fall asleep. After you’ve consumed the alcohol, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel sleepy. Naturally, this might trick you into thinking that the glass of wine is going to help you get tired and fall asleep. Try not to fall into this trap, however.
In reality, even if a glass of wine makes you feel drowsy and relaxed in the moment, it can also lead to restlessness. This alcohol-induced restlessness will only make it more difficult for you to both fall and stay asleep in the long run.
Caffeine, as many of us know all too well, is meant to keep our minds sharp and alert. If you’re drinking a cup of coffee in the morning to wake yourself up and prepare for the day, it’s probably not the best idea to consume caffeine throughout the rest of your day, especially in the evening. As the day rolls on, try to begin limiting your caffeine consumption — even if it’s still hours before you’ll be heading to bed.
Even if you feel that caffeine doesn’t affect you, you could be surprised to discover the impact it’s actually having on you and your sleep. Try cutting it out of your diet and see how that impacts your sleep.
Additionally, try to avoid heavy meals too close to bedtime. Simply consuming a heavy meal can keep you awake, and should be avoided in the evenings, for the sake of your sleep. You should give your body a little time to process your final meal before hitting the hay.
3. Plan Out Your Sleep Schedule (and Stick to It)
Having a consistent sleep schedule can do wonders for the quality of sleep you’re getting — perhaps even more than you might have realized. Establishing a routine can be incredibly useful when it comes to training our bodies to fall asleep at the proper time.
Not sure where to start? Try developing a consistent sleep schedule, and giving it a shot for just two weeks. Determine the time you’d like to be in bed, and then stick to it, each and every night. You’ll also need to pick a consistent time to wake up each morning. Even on the weekends, it’s a good idea to stick to this set schedule, in order to really drive this routine home. You’ll be thanking yourself for this during the weekdays, when it’s easier than ever to fall asleep and stay asleep, due to your commitment to a sleep schedule. If you like to snooze late on weekends, this can be a little tough but necessary for your health!
In truth, the human body thrives on schedules and is easily able to develop and adhere to routines. Take full advantage of this fact, whenever you’re searching for an easier way to fall asleep each night.
Most importantly, according to experts, it takes a minimum of two weeks to effectively start or break a habit. So, if you’re going to strive for a more consistent sleep schedule, don’t give up after just a few days if it isn’t helping you to sleep any better. Try sticking to your new sleep routine for at least a couple of weeks, rather than trashing the idea within a week.
4. Try Meditation or Journaling
Some people may roll their eyes at this idea, which is unfortunate because, in reality, meditation and journaling can be incredibly simple and effective ways to improve the quality of the sleep you’re getting (and many other facets of life).
As you probably already know, when we’re trying to fall asleep, it’s all too easy for our brains to begin digging up random (and sometimes stressful or unpleasant) thoughts. These thoughts can be anything, from your plans for tomorrow, to what you forgot to do today, to that one confusing comment someone made this morning, to why you still hate your high school significant other, and so on. These thoughts might not have plagued you during the daytime, but as you’re drifting off to sleep, they seem to come out of nowhere.
Don’t let these thoughts bounce around in your brain, overwhelming you and making it far more difficult to just fall asleep. Instead, try dumping all of these hectic thoughts onto paper, before you even lie down to go to bed. By writing down all of your thoughts, you’re helping yourself to clear your mind, so that you no longer need to ruminate so aggressively. This can help you to fall asleep more peacefully and without so much interruption.
Journaling can also be therapeutic, which is yet another reason it’s a habit worth taking up, for your own health and wellness. If you’re feeling upset or distraught about something that happened to you in the past, so much so that you can’t seem to stop thinking about it, writing it down can help you to process it. Then you’ll be able to feel better as you work to process trauma or negative emotions, as well as sleep better. Really, it’s a win-win.
Meditating can have a very similar effect as well. All it takes is ten minutes or so of meditation to help calm a person down, helping them to enter a freshly relaxed state. Once you’re in this relaxed state, it may be easier for you to quiet your mind and fall asleep.
5. Give Aromatherapy a Shot
If you’ve never tried out essential oils and a diffuser, then now might be the perfect time to give it a shot. Certain essential oils, such as lavender and sage, have been shown to aid in sleep and relaxation. In fact, there are a number of studies showing that lavender can help improve sleep quality, as well as alleviate various symptoms associated with restlessness and even mild insomnia.
All you need to do is get a hold of a diffuser and add in some lavender oil. Alternatively, you can mix lavender essential oil with water. Put this diluted, but fresh-smelling, mixture into a spray bottle, and spritz it around your bed each night.
Using Sleep Hygiene to Get More Sleep
In the following video, Sage therapist Nicole Reid explains why sleep is important and what you can do to get a better night’s sleep. Medication isn’t always the answer. Sometimes just mixing up your routine can help tremendously.
Most Importantly: Don’t Stress About It Too Much
It’s important to not be too hard on yourself if you’re having difficulties with sleep. Give yourself the time you need to settle into a routine, and in the meantime, don’t stress too much or beat yourself up. Just keep trying to find what works for you.
Plus, whenever you put pressure on yourself to begin falling asleep quickly, that pressure could prevent you from even falling asleep in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle and not one that anyone wants to fall into.
Give yourself both time and space, as you try to discover your personal method to a restful night’s sleep. Everyone is different, and that’s important to keep in mind throughout the process.
However, if you’ve tried a variety of methods to aid with sleep, but aren’t seeing any improvement, then perhaps it’s time to consult with a doctor. There’s a possibility that something more serious could be going on, and it’s important not to overlook any ongoing concerns regarding your physical and mental health.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 5, 2020 and has been updated July 19, 2021,
Community Outreach & Marketing
Imani is a writer and social media manager who assists the admin of Sage with community outreach and marketing. Her own struggles with mental health and experience in therapy give her a unique perspective to empathize with the patients/clients of Sage. Her experiences influence the blogs that she writes and the social media content she produces. In her free time, Imani enjoys traveling, making YouTube videos, reading, and obnoxiously singing to show tunes.
* All blog content that is written by Imani is approved by a licensed mental health professional.*