Some nights your head hits the pillow, but after all the thinking, tossing and turning, you feel like you’re never going to drift off to sleep. It happens to all of us sometimes, even sleep experts. So what should you do when you’re struggling to fall asleep? Here’s how doctors and sleep specialists handle their occasional restless nights.
- They write down their to-do lists - If your busy thoughts are keeping you up, try a brain dump. Behavioral sleep medicine specialist Shelby Harris says her go-to tool for disrupting mental chatter is writing worries down. So when your mind starts racing, get up and write down your anxieties or to-dos. That way, she says, “If you think about it later, you can go, ‘Nope, I already wrote it down.’”
- They get up and do something - Getting out of bed when you’re trying to sleep may seem like the last thing you want to do, but family medicine doctor Robert Roundtree says it’s better than lying awake with your thoughts. He explains that after 30 minutes or so, “You’re better off just going and reading with a little bit of light or doing something that’s non-stressful.”
- They do a relaxing routine - Before going to bed or after sleeplessness keeps you up, Roundtree recommends doing a calming activity, like taking a warm shower or bath, listening to music or following a guided meditation. Functional medicine expert Stacie Stephenson adds reading a book to that list to help take your mind off things as you unwind.
- They avoid stressors - Along those same lines, try to steer clear of any potential triggers when you’re having trouble sleeping. Sleep researcher Rebecca Robbins suggests avoiding the obvious ones first: Alcohol, heavy meals and large amounts of water, which all get in the way of quality sleep. She also recommends staying away from the news when you’re struggling to snooze. And stay off your phone so you’re not tempted to doomscroll late into the night.
Source: Mind Body Green