Having a pet as your bedfellow may be making it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep, from their snoring and moving around to acting out their dreams and needing to go to the toilet. Research shows that co-sleeping can result in you waking up more often throughout the night. This choppy, interrupted sleep could soon contribute to sleep deprivation. Try to avoid having a pet in your bed and you may enjoy deeper, better sleep.
✔ Backed by Science
47. Learn a progressive relaxation technique
Prep your body for sleeping using progressive relaxation. This simple and quick exercise involves curling your toes tightly for a count of seven and then relaxing them. Repeat through each muscle group, working up from your toes to your neck. This will help to relieve any tension in your body, calming it down for a good night’s sleep.
48. Go camping
Camping resets your circadian rhythms – you’ll wake naturally with the sun (early!) and feel sleepy when the sun goes down. A comfortable air mattress is paramount and being outside, with plenty of exposure to daylight and fresh air, will also help tire you out.
49. Do a headstand
A headstand forces fresh blood to the master glands in our brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary) which control the other glands in our body. This blood cleanses and detoxifies the glands, making us think positively and making worries and anxieties fade away. Aim for holding a headstand for 1-5 minutes before bed and you should find it easier to fall asleep.
50. Inhale through your left nostril
Breathing solely through your left nostril activates your parasympathetic response, switching off the racing, fight-or-flight-mode of your mind that’s a barrier to restful sleep. To do this, put a finger on your right nostril and breathe through the left nostril, taking slow and deep breaths.
51. Mentally rewind your day
Allowing your brain to process your day calmly and methodically will help ease it into a restful state. Go through all the events of your day, from the last one at night back to the first one in the morning.
52. Curl your toes
A monotonous exercise, with no effort required, helps relax your body and mind. Curl your toes, hold for a few seconds and then release. Repeat 2-3 times to feel calm.
53. Roll your eyes
When you’re sleeping, you unconsciously roll your eyes in small movements. By making these movements deliberately, you can trigger your brain to release the natural sleep hormone, melatonin. Close your eyes. Roll your eyes down, paying attention to your breathing. Then roll your eyes up, paying attention to your breathing. Repeat 2-3 times until you feel relaxed and ready to sleep.
54. Use your breath
Ideally, when you’re ready to sleep your breath should be relaxed – slow and deep. Achieve this with controlled breathing for 10-15 minutes before bed. Sit straight and exhale, releasing all the air inside. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, down to the diaphragm. Inhale for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 4 counts. Exhale for 4 counts, emptying out all the air. Hold again for 4 counts. Repeat the exercise at least 4 times.
55. Visit your doctor
If you’ve tried lifestyle changes and relaxation strategies but it’s not helping you fall, and stay, asleep, it may be time to visit your doctor. It could be that your sleeplessness is a symptom of a health issue. They’ll be able to investigate and help you find the best treatment.
56. Make your bedroom comfortable
Help your mind and body to switch off for sleep by creating the optimum, restful sleeping environment. Treat yourself to new pillows, turn your mattress, and change your pillowcases every week, and invest in low lighting next to your bedside. Quick tip: using a mattress topper is affordable way to add a little extra comfort to bed without breaking the bank.
57. Tire yourself out during the day
When you’re on holiday, you usually find that all the fun, excitement and activity results in you falling into bed and going straight to sleep. So, when you’re not on holiday make an effort to mentally and physically exhaust yourself (get in plenty of exercise, do a puzzle or sudoku) rather than just sitting on the couch watching TV.
58. Get a massage
Persuade your partner to give you a short massage before bed. It doesn’t need to be anything too technical – just small, circular motions on the areas that carry the most tension, such as the neck, back and shoulders. Boost the massage benefits by using sleep-inducing lavender oil, diluted in a carrier oil.
59. Have sex
Research agrees that sex can decrease stress and help promote feelings of tiredness, helping you drop off quickly to sleep.
✔ Backed by Science
60. Stop snoring
Whether it’s you or your partner snoring, it’s disruptive to sleep. There are a range of snoring aids available that can help.
61. Try natural sleep remedies
There are plenty of natural sleep remedies that could help you easily fall asleep. They also don’t rely on harsh chemicals or ingredients and don’t have addictive properties. Options include Bach Rescue Sleep or Sleep Drops.
62. Drink enough water throughout the day
To avoid feeling thirsty at night – which will lead to you reaching for your water bottle, needing the toilet and disrupting your sleep – make sure you drink enough water during the day. Aim for about 2 litres.
63. Keep your bed for sleep and sex only
Help your body and mind to associate your bed with only 2 things: sleep and sex. Then when you slip beneath the covers, your body and mind can prepare to sleep (or have sex!). If you frequently work, game, or watch TV in bed, your body and mind will associate bed with that, making it harder to switch off when you want to be sleeping.
64. Make a dream pillow
Turn a pillow into sleep-inducing dream pillow by stuffing your pillowcase with natural herbs that will relax and calm you before bed, such as lavender and passionflower. If you can’t get your hands on them in their natural form, you could spray your pillow with their scent instead.
65. Stop smoking
Smokers are 4 times more likely to feel exhausted and unrested in the morning than non-smokers. That’s because nicotine has a stimulating effect (like caffeine), stopping smokers from staying in deep sleep as their bodies go through withdrawal overnight. Try quitting and see what impact it has on your sleep.
✔ Backed by Science
66. Avoid spicy, fatty or fried foods before bed
They can upset your stomach and cause acid reflux, both of which are likely to stop you having a good night’s sleep.
67. Don’t press the snooze button
Snooze-button sleep isn’t restorative, deep sleep. Which means hitting the snooze button can leave you feeling more tired than if you’d just gotten up when your alarm went off. Rather than starting your day feeling sluggish, get up when your alarm goes off. You’ll feel more awake and rested which will help you wind down better at the end of the day.
68. Steer clear of deep conversations in bed
When you want to fall asleep, you need a calm and rested mind. Which means bedtime is not the time for deep and meaningful conversations with your partner, mum or best friend as they’re likely to get your mind racing in a way that’s not helpful to falling sleep. Schedule the serious talks for during the day.
69. Stay out of bed until you feel sleepy
If you aren’t sleepy, don’t head to bed as your body won’t settle. If you’ve had a bad night, it’s tempting to hit the hay the next night a lot earlier but trying to trick your body into sleep by getting into bed at 8pm when you’re still wide awake won’t help. Wait until you feel tired.
70. Remove the electronics
Your bedroom should be an electronics-free zone. That means no TV, computers, phones or tablets. Not only do they emit sleep-killing blue light, but they tempt you into non-restful activities that’ll keep you awake.
71. Do something mindless
The more bored you are, the less likely you are to be able to think about anything else – and the faster you’ll fall asleep. Experts recommend a mathematically challenging exercise, like counting backwards from 100 in multiples of 3.
72. Make a to-do list
When your mind is focused on tomorrow, it makes you feel uneasy, which can send adrenaline coursing through your body, keeping you alert and awake. Take control by making a short to-do list before bed each night. It’ll decrease your anxiety about what needs to be done tomorrow as you’ve turned it into a short, easily accomplishable step-by-step task list. Handwrite it rather than using a blue-light emitting phone or laptop.
73. Devote time during the day to your worries
If your mind races as you’re trying to fall asleep, think about scheduling a dedicated ‘worry time’ during the day. Stick to the same 15-minute slot every day and give your brain free reign to consider every single thing that’s worrying you. You can share with a loved one or write them down, but it’s the act of releasing your worries during the day that’ll help you switch off at bedtime.
74. Keep a pen and notebook by your bed
If you can’t sleep because of your worrying mind, make it easy on yourself to unleash them from their head by keeping a pen and notebook close by. Write them down, then drift off quicker.
75. Watch out for a full moon
Perhaps the reason you can’t get to sleep inside your room is because of something outside your room – a full moon. A small study found that participants took longer to fall asleep on nights when there was a full moon. Research the lunar cycle where you live and be prepared for the full moon, perhaps by taking some natural supplements.
✔ Backed by Science
76. Don’t go to bed angry
Couples who have been together decades normally have one piece of marriage advice to share – don’t go to bed angry. It turns out, this may actually have some truth. That’s because if you’re angry, wound up and annoyed, you’ll flood your nervous system with sleep-sapping chemicals, like adrenaline. Try to resolve any arguments before hitting your bed, otherwise you’ll have a poor night’s sleep – and probably feel even angrier in the morning.
77. Simulate the sunset
Reducing light inside your house during the evening will help your brain realise it’s night time, and help it switch into sleep-mode. You could try turning off the lights in your house and only use the moonlight that comes through your window to see. Dim the brightness on your electronic devices as much as you can. You could even wear sunglasses while you watch TV to reduce the glow.
78. Try a rocking chair or hammock
Most babies fall asleep when rocked, so there’s no reason adults can’t too. Rocking could be one of the best ways to fast asleep fast and naturally. When we were all still in the womb, we were used to a comforting, gentle and repetitious rocking sensation – that of our mothers moving around. Which means our enjoyment of a rocking movement has been hardwired into our brains before we were even born.
79. Try humming
Humming can help your body feel less stressed and more relaxed and calm, meaning slipping into sleep will be easier and faster. Lie down on your bed with your eyes closed. Breathe in and then gently out of your mouth, lips together so you hum. Try to hum for the whole out-breath. It should vibrate in your chest. Focus on this sensation as you repeat 6 times.
80. Narrate your own story in your mind
Distract a busy mind by creating a story in your head. The idea is that (unless you’re a creative genius) the story will be dull which will make the task feel like boring homework, forcing your brain to give up on it. That should be the time you start to feel drowsy.
81. Develop a sleep trigger
A sleep trigger helps your mind associate a unique action with falling asleep. Choose something that you don’t do at any other time during the day and use it every night as you’re falling asleep – try stroking your cheek. Do it every single night so your mind associates the action with falling asleep, and you’ll be able to use it as a trigger to fall asleep faster.
82. Keep a sleep diary
Help yourself to understand anything that may be interfering with your sleep by identifying your sleep habits. Start a sleep diary and write down every time you wake up and fall asleep and anything you’ve noticed that may relate to the quality of your sleep.
For example, did you have a later than normal night then notice you couldn’t fall asleep easily that night? Did you indulge in a carb-laden bowl of pasta before bed and struggle to sleep? All this information will help you determine what your actual sleep schedule is – what time you naturally rise in the morning and feel sleepy at night – and any activities that negatively impact on your sleep. You can then use that information to work out the best sleep schedule for you.
83. Keep your bedroom tidy
Your bedroom needs to be a restful, tranquil spot to help your mind switch off after a busy night. Clutter isn’t restful. Make sure your bedroom is tidy and clean with no clothes on the floor, piles of work, or exercise equipment.
84. Pick a soothing colour scheme for your bedroom
Calming hues help to trigger sleep because they help you relax. So, decorate your bedroom in natural and muted tones rather than loud and vibrant shades – a mellow blue as opposed to bright pink.
85. Keep your nasal passage clear
When most of us fall asleep, we get less oxygen than when we’re awake which results in more disturbed sleep. Maintaining an open airflow helps keep plenty of oxygen flowing. There are products around that can help keep your nasal passage open from the inside, such as a Mute.
86. Put a pillow under your knees
Prevent tossing and turning by putting a pillow under your knees. It’ll help support your body, by allowing your lower back to assume its natural curve and sink into the mattress for a restful sleep.
87. Drink warm milk
It’s long been thought that warm milk before bed can help you fall asleep. Experts aren’t sure why – it could be that it contains 2 substances which are related to sleep and relaxation (melatonin and tryptophan) or simply that it’s comforting and reminds us of our childhoods. Try a warm glass as part of your bedtime routine and see if it helps you.
88. Listen to sleep podcasts
There is an entire market for sleep-related podcasts with plenty of options that will feed sleep-inducing audio directly into your ear while you’re in bed. Sleep With Me features a monotonous voice that’s so boring, your brain will switch off, allowing you to fall asleep. Or Calm has random sleep stories that’ll distract a busy brain.
89. Try sleep hypnosis
YouTube is crammed full of sleep hypnosis videos for you to try when you’re in bed. Avoid the blue light from your electronic device by only listening to them, not watching them. There may also be sleep hypnosis practitioners near you.
90. Rub your belly
Rubbing your belly can help your body relax, soothing you and allowing you to fall asleep. Starting at your navel, rub your belly in bigger and bigger circles clockwise and then smaller and smaller circles counter-clockwise. Repeat until you feel sleepy.
91. Discover ASMR
Put ‘ASMR’ (autonomous sensory meridian response) into YouTube and you’ll find thousands of results. The videos feature seemingly random noises – such as whispering, tapping sounds and crinkling paper – to create an incredibly relaxing sensation throughout the body, helping you to fall asleep.
92. Rub on some Vicks VapoRub
The decongestants in VapoRub can help you breathe more easily, deeply and steadily, helping to relax your body. Try rubbing it onto your chest (a soothing sensation to boot), around the outside of your nostrils, or add it to humidifiers to circulate it around your bedroom.
93. Synchronise your breathing
Your breathing naturally slows as you fall asleep. Mimic this sensation by helping your breath to slow down. The NightWave Sleep Assistant projects a soft light which slowly rises and falls on the ceiling, allowing you to synchronise your breathing with the slowing wave and helping you fall asleep, fast.
94. Invest in a heated eye mask
Heated eye masks are common in Japan for quick at-work naps. They’re steam eye masks that gradually warm up to 40 degrees for 10 minutes. The steam produced helps to ease tension, making you feel more relaxed. They also feature sleep-inducing scents, including lavender-sage.
95. Sing yourself to sleep
Another trick of parents, singing lullabies to babies makes them drowsy. Try singing one softly to yourself when you’re in bed. You may find it soothes and relaxes you, helping you fall asleep quicker.
96. Rub on soothing oils
An ancient treatment called Shirodhara involves dripping warm oil onto the forehead, and studies suggest it may help with insomnia. You could try using sesame or coconut oil to oil your feet, the top of your head and the back of your ears before sleeping. Use a towel in bed to prevent any mess and warm the container of oil in a bowl of hot water first to reduce the stimulating effects of cold oil. You could even have a quick warm shower afterwards to really boost the sleepy benefits.
✔ Backed by Science
97. Make yourself a cup of banana tea
Bananas contain a lot of magnesium, which helps promote relaxation. Make a relaxing caffeine-free tea to enjoy before bed: wash a banana, cut off the tip and stem, and cut it in half leaving the fruit in and the skin on. Put it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, discard the banana and then drink the water with a little honey. The honey helps regulate blood sugar throughout the night – a common cause of middle-of-the-night wakings.
98. Keep your gut happy
The balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut can impact the quality of your sleep. Keep them happy with a balanced, fibre-rich diet and supplement your diet with probiotics.
99. Be grateful
Consider an attitude adjustment if you’d like a better night’s sleep. Grateful people have more positive thoughts when falling asleep, perhaps because they’re not fretting about having a bad night or being unable to sleep. Try to go to bed with a positive mindset to pave the way to an easier time falling asleep.
100. Have some quiet time
Chatting or socialising keeps us alert and engaged, making it trickier to unwind and fall asleep. Build some quiet downtime into the hour before bed, where you avoid social stimulation, including online interactions.