No one enjoys showing up to work groggy and tired after a sleepless night, but too many of us are having trouble catching those elusive zzz’s. 1 in 3 people around the world suffer from insomnia. All too often, we are poor sleepers who have created self-defeating habits that make insomnia inevitable. And those missing hours don’t just make us tired, they also hurt our performances at work: insomnia can lead to poorer concentration and focus, and can increase your chances of depression and of getting into an occupational accident.
Here are tips on how to avoid this by building better sleep habits:
1) Leave your bedroom
When you can’t sleep, you may think your best bet is to close your eyes and tough it out in your bed. But experts have found that it’s better to get up and leave your bed if you notice that you can’t sleep after 20 minutes. That way your bed doesn’t get linked with negative associations, which will only make sleep harder.
Get up, go sit on your couch and maybe pick up a book. Return to your bed after you feel yourself getting sleepy.
Try turning off your technology devices an hour before bed. Our smartphones, computers, and TVs emit a blue light that disrupts our sleep schedules by convincing our brains that it’s morning at 11 p.m. Instead of scrolling and tapping on screens, you could try winding down from a long day by reading a book before bed or journaling your thoughts.
3) Don’t stress yourself out
Don’t beat yourself up over not being able to sleep. That means not obsessing over the clock and seeing how few hours of sleep you’re getting. The Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute says that will only “catastrophize” the bad sleep episode and put unhelpful pressure on yourself. Instead, you should take a longer view. You may not get a good night’s sleep tonight, but you will get one tomorrow, no sweat.
A good technique to use when stress is keeping you up: keep a notebook and pen nearby and write down every single thing that’s keeping you awake. Once it’s on paper, it’s free. That should clear up your mind to get some sleep — and you may wake up with some solutions.
4) Wear your body out
In a survey of 1,000 people, the National Sleep Foundation found that people who exercise reported better sleep than people who didn’t exercise—even when both groups logged the same number of hours.
Although vigorous exercisers in the study had the biggest difference in sleep, even a 10-minute walk can help increase your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Just try not to exercise in the hours right before bed, some experts say that it can impair your ability to sleep if it’s too intense.
5) Relax your muscles to ease your mind
Progressive muscle relaxation is a centuries-old technique anyone can use to get your body to stop holding everything in and relaaax.
You flex and tense each muscle group, and then relax these muscles in 20-second intervals. You can start with your face by lifting your eyebrows and then relaxing them to ease tension out of your forehead. Then repeat this method with each body part.
By the end of the exercise, your body should feel looser and your mind calmer.
6) Go to bed at the same time each day
You want to train your body to get tired at the right time each day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed and waking up at the same time to promote good sleep habits. That may mean cutting back on your naps, so you’re not energized when you should be tired. Try keeping a sleep diary, so you can see when you are going to bed.
7) Try home remedies
Everyone has their favorite natural sleep aid: warm baths, hot milk, lavender oil and chamomile tea have all been found to promote better sleep habits. The mileage on these home remedies may vary, but sometimes just the ritual of making a hot cup of tea can help soothe your mind.