Can't get to sleep? Try these tricks...
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Can’t get to sleep? Try these tricks…

Can't get to sleep? We know how you feel.

Photo by CC user alyssafilmmaker on Flickr

Having a hard time getting a good night’s rest? The average adult needs seven to eight hours of shuteye per night, but many of us get by on as little as six hours per night if we’re lucky.

There is a way to remedy this situation, though, as chronic insomnia and sub-optimal sleep often have their roots in bad habits. If you can’t get to sleep, this article will share behavioral adjustments and life hacks which will make it easier to fall asleep than you ever thought possible.

Your bed is for sleep only

You may not know it, but this might be a leading reason why you can't get to sleep

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Despite its primary function, our bed often ends up being the venue for things other than sleeping. Late night talk shows, surfing the web, reading: it serves as a relaxing place for us to spend our downtime at the end of a hard day.

However, this habit may have the unintended effect of training our brain to associate our bed with being awake, and then all of a sudden, we can’t get to sleep when we desperately need to do so.

Want to watch TV? Do it in the living room. Surf the web in your home office or on the couch. Read that interesting novel in your favorite chair.

Over time, your brain will re-wire itself to realize lying in bed means it is bedtime, making it much easier to get the rest you need.

Keep your bedroom as dark as possible

Our primal ancestors never had to worry about the bright lights of the city; once they put out their campfire for the evening, it was pitch black outside (save for the moon and the stars), making it easy for them to drift into a restful slumber.

However, today’s modern age has infected our nights with streetlights and the blue glow of television and computer screens, which has made it tough for our body clock to know when it is time to rest. No wonder so many of us can’t get to sleep.

By purchasing blackout screens for your windows and turning off smartphones, you’ll allow your body to create the melatonin you’ll need to drift off into a peaceful state of rest.

Optimize your room temperature

If you can't get to sleep, drop your thermostat below 68, as scary as that sounds

Photo by CC user grantsewell on Flickr

This suggestion can be a tough one to enact, as many bristle at the suggestion of having anything but a toasty warm bedroom outside the summer months.

However, experts at Harvard Medical School suggest keeping its temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 – 19.5 degrees Celsius), as a cooler bedroom can help induce sleep more effectively than those set at 68f (20c) or higher.

Just like darkness, a lower internal body temperature triggers the release of melatonin, making it easier to get to sleep.

Take a hot shower 60 minutes before bedtime

If you can’t get to sleep, taking a hot shower before bed may seem like a counterproductive piece of advice to give.

You may come out of the bathroom piping hot, but the effect of stepping into a cooler room will induce a steeper drop in body temperature than if you were to pass on taking a shower altogether. This has the effect of speeding up the release of melatonin, which will help you to nod off faster.

Try to stay awake

In this pic: the desperation of a man who can't get to sleep comes full circle

Photo by CC user hrns on Flickr

As counter-intuitive tips go, this one takes the cake. It makes no sense at first glance (and we don’t suggest downing a pot of coffee to test this theory, just to be clear), but if you can’t get to sleep, this bit of reverse psychology often ends up having the opposite intended effect (which ironically, is the result we want).

When you battle to stay awake while reading a book, you will eventually hit a wall where you won’t be able to keep your eyelids open for longer than two minutes without having them droop on you.

When this starts happening, head straight to bed, turn off the light, and with any luck, you’ll be out moments after your head hits the pillow.

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