Establish a routine with as consistent as possible sleep and wake times. It can be really tempting and draining to vary your sleep cycle during the week. Stick as close as possible to your times- even on weekends. Sleep research has referred to sleeping in on weekends as more tiring for a person than traveling from East coast to West coast in a day.
Turn off screens that have blue light, as it is disruptive to your body’s natural rhythm. This can be really difficult for people; many think they can’t fall asleep without a tv (“I just need the noise), and it is actually quite damaging to your sleep cycle.
Keep your room as dark and cool as possible to assist with both falling asleep and achieving a deep sleep cycle. Each of our sleep cycles help with different things related to well being, and the deep sleep cycle helps the body repair and regrow tissues, build bone and muscle, and strengthen the immune system.
Avoid turning on the lights if you need to get up. You can do most things in the dark if you do have to get out of bed. The light will be stimulating and make it difficult to fall back asleep.
Appreciate the relaxation time even when you’re not falling asleep. It can be easy to count down the hours you haven’t been sleeping or how many hours of sleep you could get if you can just fall asleep right then. Don’t add that pressure! It generally doesn’t end well. The stress and anxiety only increase making it more difficult to fall asleep. You may instead say “it’s good to be relaxed, my body is enjoying relaxation.”
Move slowly and intentionally while lying in bed to fall asleep. Avoid tossing and turning as much as possible to maintain a relaxed state.
Be aware of caffeine and exercise too close to sleep. Caffeine is of course a stimulant making it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine earlier in the day is not a problem. There is a study that found consuming caffeine six hours before bed reduced sleep by one hour. Exercise in the morning or afternoon can improve sleep. It is important to avoid it close to bed though, as it gets people more activated making it difficult to fall asleep. Throughout a day body temperature is increasing until the point a person is getting closer to sleep. As people are nearing sleep, their body temperature starts decreasing, so as exercise increases body temperature, it has a negative effect on sleep.
Practice breathing and mindfulness while trying to fall asleep. Deep breathing is particularly helpful and really following the sensations of your breath moving in and out of your body. Mindfulness has many effective benefits, including on sleep. It prepares your mind for sleep and with regular practice, one is learning to let go of thoughts and body reactions that may interfere with sleep. People can learn to let the thoughts pass rather than planning and evaluating each thought. Mindfulness has shown to be at least as effective as other insomnia treatments.
Stick to a bedtime practice / routine that is as similar as possible each night.
Get out of bed if you can’t sleep past 30 minutes. Move to a place outside of your bed that is quiet and non-stimulating until ready to fall back asleep. Return to your bed at that time. This can seem unusual to do, but is highly effective at changing associations with your bed and sleep. By getting out of bed when you are not tired and returning only when you are, you are making a strong connection between your bed and sleep. This connection gets weakened the longer you lie in your bed awake and instead the bed and a wake state get connected. The key though is a quiet activity. Do not go read the mystery that has you on the edge of your seat or the show that you can’t turn off.