Sometimes, there are nights when sleep just won’t come. I know the feeling. Whether it’s anxiety over that big test you’ve got tomorrow keeping you awake or just you run-of-the-mill sleepless night, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top six tricks for catching some z’s when the sleep just won’t come.
1. Weighted Blanket
Getting a weighted blanket is the sleep trick changed my life, and if you have sleeping troubles, it just might change yours, too. Weighted blankets usually weigh 15-20 pounds, and while they’re a hassle to haul up onto lofted dorm beds, the trouble is totally worth it. The blanket makes it harder to toss and turn, gently forcing your body to stop moving and just relax. You’ll be falling asleep in no time–the hard part will be forcing yourself out of your cozy blanket nest in the morning!
Pro-tip: They’re great for managing anxiety attacks, too!
2. Clench And Unclench Your Muscles
This one might sound a little weird, but trust me, it works. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, get all the tension out of your body at once by using this simple sleep trick.
Clench every muscle in your toes as hard as you can for 5-10 seconds and then release. Then do the same with your feet, then your shins and calves, then your knees, and so on, working your way slowly up to the very top of your head. The key is that once you release a muscle, you can’t move it again. Envision that part of your body as floppy and boneless, or petrified like stone. Close your eyes, and hopefully sleep will come pretty quickly after that.
Pro-tip: Just like the weighted blanket, this trick is also great for managing anxiety attacks! It’s a trick you can do anywhere, as long as you have some degree of privacy so people don’t see you making strange faces. This trick will help dispel an anxiety attack while one is occurring. Emphasis on help–everyone manages anxiety differently, and there’s no one trick that works every time for every person. If you practice this trick regularly, it can also be a preventative measure to decrease the frequency of future attacks!
3. Minimize Blue Light Exposure
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: being on an electronic device before bed keeps you up. But with our lives progressively moving more and more to the digital world, turning the screen off before bed isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The good news is that most of the damaging light that keeps you awake is the blue light, and there are ways to reduce that without turning your screen off completely. If you’re on an iPhone, turn on Night Shift an hour before you go to bed. It won’t block all blue light coming from your screen, but it will reduce it.
If you’re studying, working, or enjoying some relaxing Netflix and can’t part with your laptop before you go to bed, try getting a pair of blue-light blocking glasses. They come in lots of cute styles, and you can order them online pretty easily. If you’re already a glasses user, there are prescription blue light glasses available online as well, or ask your eye doctor about getting a pair!
Pretty much everyone I know swears by this sleep trick. Give your mind something to focus on by repeating a short, simple prayer or phrase in your mind over and over until you fall asleep. It’s a lot like counting sheep.
The added benefit, though, is the peace of mind the words themselves bring you. If you practice a religion, repetition of a prayer instead of counting sheep has the added bonus of reaching out for divine comfort, so you don’t have to suffer through your sleepless nights alone. If you’re not religious, try picking a short phrase or mantra that you find comforting, words that bring you serenity and calm.
This method also helps to curb one of the worst parts of sleeplessness, which is the frustrating sense of time spent unproductively. Time spent in prayer is never time wasted. Who we are starts with what we tell ourselves, and even if we would rather be asleep, time spent telling ourselves encouraging things is a productive time of self-care and self-improvement.
5. Focused Breathing
One super effective way of getting to sleep is to focus on your breathing. There are a couple different ways to do it, but the key is to get into a steady rhythm that forces to you breathe deeply, and concentrate on what you’re doing.
One of these easy methods is called square breathing. You breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and wait four counts before taking another breath. Another way is to breathe in for seven counts, hold it for three to four counts, breathe out for eight counts, and wait three to four counts before repeating.
Pro-tip: You guessed it: this sleep trick is also great for managing anxiety attacks!
6. Just Get Up For A Bit
If sleep really, really isn’t coming, don’t force it. If you find yourself tossing and turning for longer than two hours, get up and move to a different location for a bit. Make yourself a cup of calming tea, stretch out with some light yoga, or read a couple pages of a paper (not electronic!) book. If you have any lavender spray or calming essential oils, try putting them on your pulse points to encourage relaxation. Spend about 15-30 minutes out of bed and away from your bedroom, and your body will usually reset to the same state of sleepiness that prompted you to go to bed in the first place. Getting up will give you a second chance at getting in bed peacefully, rather than staying there in frustration.
What are your tips and tricks for sleepless nights? Share your best sleep hacks in the comments below?
Featured Image Source via medicalnewstoday.com.
A. A. Ford is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a student majoring in English and Theology at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her articles for Society 19, Ford is known for her poetry and fiction, which can be found at https://aafordstories.wordpress.com/. In her free time, she loves directing stage theater, spending time with her friends and family, and trying her best to glorify God by her life.