Getting to sleep seems like it should be so simple. You lie still, close your eyes, and after a while you drift into some weird state of subconscious. That should be it.
But instead, sometimes you lie there and start thinking about how embarrassed you were on the playground in 5th grade when your girlfriend broke up with you for Brad. And then you think about the perfect thing you could have said to that dude who called you a name on the subway. And then you wonder, did you leave the oven on? Better go check, just in case.
The point is that sometimes falling asleep isn’t as easy as it seems. Your brain has a way of keeping you up even when you’d rather be catching some ZZZs. But don’t worry! We’ve got 5 great tips for helping to calm your mind when you’re ready to hit the hay.
1. GET A ROUTINE
Every living organism has a thing called the circadian rhythm. It does all sorts of stuff, but the most important is that it helps manage your body’s sleep. It’s based off of a 24 hour cycle, which means that your body is pre-programmed to function optimally during a regular day. Getting into a routine with a standard bedtime and wake up time will help get your circadian rhythm in a predictable pattern, which will lead to more restful sleep.
2. NO CAFFEINE AFTER 4 PM
Caffeine is in so much stuff these days that it might seem impossible to avoid. But since it’s a stimulant, you should do your best to have as little of it as possible after 4 PM. That means no coffee, cola, or energy drinks. Give your body a chance to calm down without the effects of heart-palpitation inducing drugs.
3. GET AWAY FROM DIGITAL DEVICES
Remember the circadian rhythm? The way that it works is based off of sunlight. Digital devices play tricks with your circadian rhythm by making your brain and body think that the sun is still up. Cut out your digital device use about 30 minutes before bed to get your mind in the mood for sleep.
4. RELAX YOUR MIND AND BODY
Getting into the right state of mind the best way to get to sleep quickly. So how do you do that, you ask? Start out by doing a couple of light stretches. Things like child’s pose and downward dog are perfect for relaxing your body. Next, meditate. You don’t have to say your Ohms, but just sitting still is a great way to decompress. If none of those things work, try reading a book for a few minutes under somewhat dim lighting.
Concentrated breathing is one of the best things you can do to get yourself calmed and ready for a deep slumber. Breathing deeply in conjunction with meditation is the perfect cap to a stressful or tiring day. Try breathing in for four counts then exhaling for four counts. Keep your breathing measured and make sure every bit of air is pulled from your diaphragm, not your chest. Breathe in and count to four. Breathe out and count to four. In to four. Out to four.
And that’s it! Get a schedule, cut out caffeine, turn off your cell phone, stretch a little, and breathe. Do those things, and you’ll be well on your way to more calming and restful sleep.