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“I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be a doctor. Any health or medical related information found in this post is from personal experience only and documentation of my own experiences and are not instructions for you to adhere to.”
For some people falling asleep can be a challenge. If you’re like me, you get into bed totally exhausted and look forward to the sleep ahead. You climb into your cozy bed, and then, nothing. You are exhausted, and you should be able to fall asleep no problem, but something is keeping you up. Or, you’ve fallen asleep, but then your husbands’ alarm goes off at 5 in the morning and wakes you up and that’s it, you’re up and there is no hope of falling back to sleep. We all go through this, you’re not alone!
Why Can’t You Fall Asleep?
Sometimes there are noises that are distracting you (like snoring, or traffic outside), or the moon is full and is particularly bright shining through the blinds keeping you awake. Maybe you have thoughts running through your mind that are making you anxious causing you to be more alert. Even thinking about trying to fall asleep can keep you up. If you’re a parent, any little noise will wake you up on the basis that it could be one your kids needing you. Whatever the reason, falling asleep, or falling back to sleep, can be a challenge for a lot of people.
I’ve asked friends and family, done some research, and tried many common methods and techniques to help me fall asleep and I want to share with you the ones I’ve tried that have actually helped.
8 Tips to Help You Fall Asleep
Tip 1: Lavender
My first introduction to lavender as a relaxing scent was at a spa. I was getting a massage and the massage therapist asked me if I wanted the lavender scented massage oil to help me relax. At first, I thought that it was ridiculous but after about two minutes of smelling it, it actually did put me into a more relaxed state.
After that, I started using lavender scented body wash for my shower at night, body lotion to put on my hands and legs before bed, and even a lavender spray that I spritz on my pillow before laying my head down. I can honestly say that having the smell of lavender around me when I go to sleep really does help me relax my mind in order to fall asleep. It’s not magic, it’s the power of aromatherapy. You can even try lighting a lavender scented candle before bed, diffusing lavender essential oils, or even sleeping with lavender potpourri near your pillow.
Tip 2: Melatonin
There was a period of time when my husband experienced some insomnia. For about two months he would get about 2-3 hours of sleep a night. When I told my friend about this she suggested he try Melatonin. According to WebMD “Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland…It helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up” (Melatonin Sleep Aid Supplement: Effectiveness, Dosage, & Side Effects). Melatonin is also a supplement. It is a tiny round pill that tastes minty that you stick under your tongue for about 15 seconds and it disintegrates. Most people use it when they are doing shift work or who are experiencing jetlag but a few people told me that they use it every so often to help them fall asleep.
I bought a bottle and told my husband about it and like a typical man, he wasn’t interested in trying it. Since I already bought the bottle, I thought I would try it. It doesn’t make you drowsy like taking a sleeping pill, but after trying it a few times I did find that I did fall asleep faster. I asked my doctor if it was ok that I take it and he said yes, but it usually only works for about 50% of people. I guess I am part of that 50% because it seemed to work for me. I am not a doctor or medical professional but I find for myself, taking Melatonin every so often does help me fall asleep.
Tip 3: Eye Mask
This may seem like an obvious tip, but blocking out all light by wearing an eye mask can really help you fall asleep. There are a lot of people out there
Tip 4: Sleeping Bag
When I was a kid I used to get Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) really bad. Some adults can also experience RLS. My mom used to call it growing pains but to me, it was excruciating. It wasn’t necessarily painful, but it was a feeling in my legs that felt very uncomfortable where I just couldn’t settle them down. There were many nights when I couldn’t fall asleep due to this. One thing that I found that helped was sleeping in a sleeping bag. For some reason, when my legs were restricted in the sleeping bag it seemed to minimize the feeling and help me fall asleep. I don’t know if it necessarily made the RLS go away any faster, but the restriction of room for my legs to move took my mind off of the RLS. I haven’t done any scientific studies on this, but after many years of trying just about everything, the sleeping bag method was the only thing that seemed to help.
Tip 5: Tea
This may be another obvious tip but I had to include it. Having tea with ingredients that induce relaxation will help your body and mind become calm and put you in the perfect mental space to sleep. I usually drink Sleepytime Tea, but any tea with chamomile in it does the trick for me. There are other teas out there specifically made to help you sleep, but a lot of people just need tea (or a hot drink) period to help them relax before bed. (My 7-year-old daughter always asks me to have some sleepytime tea, but she doesn’t like the taste, so I give her warm milk instead and that does the trick!).
Tip 6: White Noise
I need silence in order to go to sleep. I can’t have any inconsistent noise whatsoever if I have any hope of falling asleep. If you are unable to achieve pure silence then having some sort of consistent ‘white noise’ really helps. Sometimes I turn the fan on or have a humidifier going just to have a consistent lull to drown out the noises that seem to keep my mind engaged. Some people prefer to actually use a sleep machine which has a bunch of different noises that seem to help people fall asleep.
Tip 7: Don’t Check the Clock
I have three kids under the age of 7 and a husband that gets up as early as three thirty in the morning for work. Every time I hear a noise, whether it be one of my kids or my husbands’ alarm clock, I wake up, and look at the clock to check the time, and then am up for at least another 45 minutes to an hour trying to fall back to sleep.
I found that once I stopped checking the time when I woke up in the middle of the night, the faster I would fall back to sleep. It is definitely all psychological. When I would wake up and look at the time, most of the time it would be close to when my alarm would go off, so I would put pressure on myself to fall back to sleep. If the time I woke up wasn’t close to my alarm, I would still monitor (subconsciously) how long it was taking me to fall back to sleep, thus, making falling back to sleep nearly impossible. Checking the time for me took effort because I have really poor eyesight so I actually have to put on my glasses to see the clock that was right beside my bed on my nightstand. Once I stopped looking at the time when I woke up, I started noticing how much easier it was to fall back to sleep.
Tip 8: Meditation and Breathing
Meditation is great for settling those anxious thoughts that run through your mind that keep you up at night. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and for some reason these negative thoughts start running through my mind, almost causing a mini panic attack. When I start to notice this happening I start to concentrate on my breath. I inhale and exhale and try to consistently do this until my head is clear. This really helps me calm down enough to fall back to sleep.
If you have a difficult time meditating on your own, a great app that you can try is Headspace. It has different meditations for all kinds of needs. If you have never meditated before they provide an amazing introduction to meditation to ease you into it.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Falling Asleep
Falling asleep or falling back to sleep is a common challenge we all face at one time or another. The tips I’ve given to you are things that I have tried and that have worked for me. So don’t stress out about falling asleep, there are tons of things you can try to take you off to dreamland!