Tag Archives: routine

Mature man, eyes open with both hands on alarm clock while checking time, cannot sleep at night from insomnia

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep

While establishing a sleep schedule and routine can help improve your sleep, you may still struggle with occasional bouts of insomnia. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of tucking in, don’t stay in bed. Watching the minutes tick by while you lay awake can increase your anxiety, actually making it harder for you to sleep.

Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and choose a relaxing activity. Go back to bed when you feel tired. Even if you don’t fall asleep at your regularly scheduled time, try to wake up at your normal hour. Sleeping in can make it harder to fall asleep the following night.

You might consider these relaxing activities to get your sleepiness back:

  • Reading a book
  • Take a walk (outside)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Practice yoga
  • Meditate
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Write

To Nap or Not to Nap?

Napping can be a great way for you to catch up on sleep and increase your performance during the day, but it can also have negative effects. For some people, daytime napping can cause grogginess and nighttime sleep problems. If you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, experiment with naps to decide whether they are helpful for you.

If you do want to try napping, follow a few simple rules to minimize negative effects. Keep your naps short. For most people, 10 to 30 minutes is enough to recharge. Take your naps midmorning or mid-afternoon. Any later, and your nap might interfere with your nighttime sleep.

If you follow these guidelines but still experience grogginess or trouble sleeping at night, napping may not be a good way for you to recharge. Instead, try to get enough sleep at night to keep you going during the day.

Managing Sleep Problems

While occasional insomnia or sleeplessness is normal, some people experience more frequent sleep problems, even when they stick to a sleep schedule and make regular sleep routines. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping or waking up frequently in spite of changes to your sleep routines, talk to your doctor, as these symptoms may be signs of a sleep disorder or other illness.

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How important is a bedtime routine?

One of the best ways to improve your quality of sleep is to establish a sleep schedule and a bedtime routine. This regularity helps the body adjust to a daily habit and prepare for sleeping and waking when the time comes.

The Importance of a Regular Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle, called the circadian rhythm. This will help you sleep better and feel more energized and refreshed during the day.

Choose a regular sleep schedule based on when you feel tired at night and when you have to be up each morning. Some people are natural night owls, while other people feel sleepy earlier. Figure out which you are and schedule your sleep accordingly.

Follow the same sleep schedule every day, including on weekends and holidays. If you need to change your regular sleep schedule, work incrementally by adjusting your bedtime and morning alarm by 15 minutes each day.

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Setting up a routine you follow each night before bed further prepares your body for sleep. Eventually, these nightly activities will signal to your brain that it’s time to begin shutting down for the night, making it easier to fall asleep soon after you crawl into bed.

Set aside the hour before bed to begin your before-bed routine. Turn off electronics and turn down the lights in your home to tell your brain that bedtime is nearing. Then find something relaxing that will begin to quiet your mind and body. Here are some examples of calming activities you could do before bed.

  • Write in a journal. If you are someone who lies awake with anxious thoughts, try to document these before you go to bed. Or, write down happy memories from the day or a list of things for which you’re grateful.
  • Read a book. Pick something that isn’t too intense – graphic crime dramas and heart-pounding thrillers aren’t conducive to good sleep. Choose a lighthearted novel, a poetry collection, or a spiritual or religious text.
  • Take up a relaxing hobby. Try knitting, scrapbooking, or painting – something that will help you unwind and take your mind off your busy day.
  • Practice meditation to reduce stress. Many books, apps, and videos can guide you through the process of learning to meditate, a practice that research suggests may help with anxiety, sleep problems, and other ailments.
  • Take a warm bath. Add calming essential oils, such as lavender or chamomile, to enhance the experience and increase relaxation.

What to Avoid in the Hours before Sleep

Just as you can do some things before bed to promote healthy sleep, you should avoid other things that may make it harder to sleep well. Here are some common things to avoid.

  • Caffeine and nicotine. These chemicals send alerting signals to the brain, so cut these out well before your established bedtime.
  • Large meals. Feeling too full when you go to bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Similarly, feeling hungry can keep you up. If you want a late evening snack, try something small, like fruit, cereal, or a piece of cheese.
  • Exercise. While exercising in general helps you get a better night’s sleep, working out right before bed can energize your body rather than calming it down. If you feel like some light exercise before you sleep, try stretching or gentle yoga.
  • White screens. Televisions, computers, and tablets emit bright light that sends signals to the brain telling it to stay awake. Shut these down at least an hour before bed to begin transitioning to sleep.
  • Drinking. A glass of water right before bed may mean a sleep-disrupting trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Try to have your last sips at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

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