If you're struggling with sleep, I can relate. I have learned that in my case, my sleep issues often start in my head. Today I want to share six tips that help me to calm down my mind and sleep better. I hope they work for you too.
One of the most common advice to someone who says she can't get a good sleep, is to start exercising. It may be helpful to some people: If you're used to sit all day long and then start exercising, it's a new challenge for your body. Working out makes it tired and you can't wait to get to bed at night.
But for someone who is active anyway, start exercising is not helpful advice. Your body is already used to exercise, and the only way to go from there would be to exercise more. But that's not necessarily what we want, because more isn't always better. Maybe you don't have more time! Besides, adding more exercising may not even be healthy.
I remember having sleep issues also when I was running a lot, and there's no way I could've added any more training volume to my plan when I was already running at least an hour a day six days a week. For someone who doesn't go to work or school or isn't a professional athlete, this isn't an option.
If “Exercise More” Is Not Your Solution
So, what can you do if the advice “start exercising” is not going to help you, because you are already working out?
A lot of times, sleeping problems are in our heads. There are so many things going on inside of our minds that we may feel like we're on a rollercoaster that is impossible to stop.
Throughout the day, we are bombarded with sounds, people, news, music, social media, information, information, more information… and when it's time to go to bed, it's all still in our heads.
It definitely happens to me on a regular work day. But for example, there are some Saturdays or Sundays when I don't open my computer all day. If that happens, I sleep a million times better, because I'm not exposed to that much “noise”.
How To Sleep Better
How to sleep better if we can't completely unplug from all the life around us?
Here are six things that I've been doing to help with my sleep quality, and that have nothing to do with working out more.
Don't Bring Instagram to Bed With You
Instagram is the social media where I hang out the most. I could literally spend a full hour surfing around there, and I acually used to do that a lot. It would be the last thing I did before going to sleep.
I've now tried to cut my time on Instagram back significantly, and about two weeks ago, stopped taking Instagram to my bed. No sending hearts before sleep!
Why did I stop doing it?
Here's what typically happens to me: I may go to bed feeling very sleepy, but as soon as I start surfing Instagram or anything else online, I find myself wide awake again. All that ends up cutting my sleep time a lot and probably also affects the quality of my sleep.
I really try to stick with this new habit and stay away from my phone or tablet right before the bed.
Read a Physical Book
Instead of checking my phone, I've been reading a whole lot more. I mean real, physical, paper books.
Sometimes it takes just five pages to get super sleepy. And it doesn't absolutely mean that the book is boring.
Again, instead of letting the screen light from the phone or tablet to make me super alert, reading does the opposite: It calms me down and makes me sleepier. Sometimes I have to re-read again what I read last night, because I fell asleep and can't remember much 🙂
Right now, I'm reading Georgie Fear's “Lean Habits” and picking up a lot of good advice from there. Highly recommended!
Even the smallest noise can wake me up easily. Living very close to a train station doesn't help either. We're moving soon, so luckily this is not going to be an issue for too long time anymore. But there are always noises and sounds and if you're not a great sleeper, I recommend you use earplugs to block them.
At first, I was afraid that I won't be able to hear my alarm in the morning, but that hasn't been an issue. First of all, it seems that my inner alarm clock is programmed so well that I'm up before my phone alarm goes off anyway. Secondly, even if I'm not awake, I can hear the alarm. The earplugs block out louder sounds, but not the alarm.
Don't Listen to Music Before the Bed
It happens once in a while that I can't stop hearing music in my ears even after hours of listening to or hearing it. I'm not sure why it is, but I would sometimes even wake up in the middle of the night to music in my ears.
It's pretty annoying and I don't really have an explanation to that.
So, I don't generally listen to music before bedtime. If I work late at night, I use earplugs to block the noises from outside.
It happens to me more than I'd like to admit: I fall off the yoga wagon, then get back to it again, then fall off… Every time I get back though, I'm asking myself why I took so much time off. Because I feel amazing after a good yoga class.
There are so many things going on during the day, and we're also multitasking a lot. There's really never an opportunity to slow down and focus on yourself, which is why this one hour at yoga class makes such a big difference.
When my mind is calm, it's much easier to fall and stay asleep.
Try to Focus on Good Things
Life can get very, very hectic at times. Things that we couldn't expect to happen happen, and plans that we made don't work out. That's just the way it goes.
Working on positive thinking and stop going back and forth about negative things is super important to quiet your mind.
We ask ourselves: Why is this happening to me? Why do I always fail?
But you keep feeling even worse if you don't let the negative thoughts go. As the saying goes, you are what you think.
I know this really well, because I'm the first one to admit that I do get stuck in negative thinking patterns. They end up not letting me to focus on important things when I'm awake and also interrupting my sleep at night.
I'm working hard to focus on staying positive when things get difficult!
I'm convinced that for so many people, the reasons why they can't sleep are their heads. But sleep is incredibly important and we have to do our best to get as much and as good quality sleep as possible.
Do you have any tips that help you sleep better? Please share!
Disclaimer: This post has an affiliate link in it, but it's for a product that I recommend.
Michelle Henry says
These are really easy and powerful solutions. Sometimes, the best answer to better sleep is the simple most obvious one. Thanks for sharing!
Kersten Kimura says
Thank you Michelle! I’m glad it was helpful! Even if it’s hard to do all those things, doing even just one can start a great change. Reading a book instead of surfing Instagram has been a game changer for me 🙂