In an age where most of us look at digital screens from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed, winding down and shutting off your brain can be harder than ever. According to National Sleep Foundation research, nearly 50 percent of Americans have trouble sleeping at least one night a week. If you have trouble getting to bed at a reasonable hour or are not getting the quality sleep you need, here are some tips for winding down and resting easy.
Power down electronics 30 minutes before bed
Laptop and smartphone screens are not relaxing for your eyes, even if the images or articles you’re viewing are. Wrap up all work, communication, and games on your computer and phone 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. In those 30 minutes, try not to do or discuss anything that might stress you out. Instead, ready yourself for bed, tidy up, and engage in other activities that become a part of your nightly routine.
…Unless TV makes you sleepy
The exception to the rule above is if a bit of TV before you crash actually makes you sleepy. If it does, and it doesn’t bother your bed mate, don’t feel a need to kick this habit.
Focus on your breath
Concentrating on your breath is an effective way to stop a busy mind. It also relaxes you before bed. Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath. Any time you notice it your attention wandering, bring it back to your breath. It may help to count the seconds in your inhales and exhales. To get the most from this relaxation technique, make your exhales twice as long as your inhales.
Brew herbal tea
Caffeine-free tea made from Valerian root, chamomile flower, passion flower, oat-straw, and other herbs have soothing, calming effects. Brew a pot an hour or so before bedtime to calm your racing nerves and mind.
Take a warm bath
A hot bath at the end of the day relaxes your muscles and raises your core body temperature, which can help you rest easier. A steamy shower works too.
Conjure up image or story
There is something to the mental exercise of counting sheep. If picturing sheep jumping over a fence and counting them as they do so doesn’t do it for you, use your imagination to visualize something else that might. Take a mental vacation to a sunny beaches, serene mountaintop, or other peaceful place. The visualization should be nice, and it may help you sleep.
Don’t force anything
If you still haven’t fallen asleep 30 minutes after going to bed, the best thing to do is often give up trying to fall asleep. Get up, move to another part of your apartment, and read or do something else relaxing until exhaustion hits you. As soon as it does, go back to bed.
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