Many people will tell you to start meditating or keeping a sleep diary if you experience trouble sleeping. But that’s not exactly helpful when you wake up at 3 a.m., and all you want is to go back to sleep. What you need are practical ways to induce sleep. For some, you’ll need to get out of bed, but for some others, all you have to do is stay where you are.
Bright Side would like to suggest 7 science-backed methods that can make you feel sleepy in no time.
1. Do a few toe-tensing exercises.
Progressive muscle relaxation exercises will help you loosen up your body and get rid of stress. Flex your legs by squeezing them together and relax them slowly. Additionally, you can curl your toes, release them upwards, and then back to their normal position. Hold your toes in each position for 10 seconds before relaxing them.
2. You might have to kick your pet out of bed.
Sleeping with your pet can be both good and bad. As one study has shown, pets can help us reduce our stress levels, but another one mentions that they can also disrupt our sleep. This depends on whether your pet is a sound sleeper or if they toss and turn throughout the night. For those suffering from allergies, it would be best not to allow pets on the bed.
So, if you feel like your pet is messing with your sleep, train them not to sleep with you. You can get them a separate bed and teach them to sleep in it. Reward them when they go to their own bed automatically, without you leading them to it.
3. Avoid grabbing your phone and grab a book instead.
Melatonin is a hormone necessary for restorative sleep. If you’re awake in the middle of the night, you lack melatonin, and phone use will not increase its levels. On the contrary, the light from the screen will reduce it even more and make it impossible for you to fall back asleep. What you need to do is remove your phone from your room completely.
Something you can try to help you fall asleep again is reading a book. Yes, you will need to turn on some lights, but the words on the paper are bound to make you sleepy. There’s a reason our parents read to us before going to sleep. And if what you’re reading is uninteresting to you, it will bore you to sleep faster.
4. Take a nice lukewarm or even cold shower.
Many doctors recommend taking a shower about an hour before going to bed. This is because, in order to feel sleepy, the temperature of our bodies needs to decrease. So, if you take a shower right before bedtime, your body will feel energized and not ready for sleep.
Sometimes, when we wake up in the middle of the night, we feel overheated. By taking a lukewarm or even cold shower, we’re able to lower our body temperature and clear our minds, which helps us fall back asleep much faster.
5. Smell some lavender or drink lavender tea.
Lavender has been proven to improve insomnia and help people having trouble sleeping. A study has shown that 6 to 8 drops of lavender oil improve both the quality and duration of sleep without causing any adverse effects. If you don’t have an essential oil extractor, you can simply leave the essential oil drops somewhere in your bedroom.
If lavender oil isn’t your thing, you can start keeping a lavender plant in your bedroom. This way, the smell will always be present no matter what. You can also prepare a cup of lavender tea, which helps lower your heart rate.
6. Wear socks.
Socks have the ability to dilate the blood vessels in our feet and transfer their warmth to the rest of the body. A small research showed that wearing socks in bed improved sleep quality and its duration. However, not just any pair of socks will help you get a good night’s sleep. Make sure not to wear any tight socks that will interfere with blood circulation.
Cashmere and merino wool socks are thought to be the best to warm up your feet and keep you comfortable at the same time.
7. Get up and do something after 20 minutes.
You’ve been in bed for 20 minutes trying to go back to sleep, but your mind keeps racing. Instead of just sitting there, you can get up and go to another room. Sit comfortably on a chair or couch and do something relaxing. Listening to music or reading a book are good options, but most importantly, leave your bed and go to another room.
If you stay in bed, your mind will still be stuck in its state of wakefulness and no activity with help it move on from that. Also, avoid doing anything stressful, like working or doing your taxes. You will have plenty of time to deal with those things in the morning.
What do you do to fall back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night? Have any of the methods we mentioned help you deal with wakefulness?