How to Ease Your Mind Before Sleep
Ideally, falling asleep no more than 10 minutes after you’ve rested your head upon your pillow is what many people hope for. However, that is rarely the case. Largely depending on what your bedtime routine consists of, a majority of individuals may not actually fall asleep until hours after lying down. Even worse, simply focusing on the fact that you are struggling to fall asleep can keep you awake longer.
Brain activity and the time of day in which it is most active varies from person to person. Labeling someone a “morning person” may be one who experiences much more brain activity during the early hours, while other people tend to function more effectively during afternoons, or at night. For those who don’t fully “wake up” until later hours of the day, thoughts may swirl through your head well into the night, preventing you from falling asleep. While it can be extremely difficult silencing these thoughts, there are a number of strategies you can take advantage of that may assist in you falling asleep more quickly.
Avoid the blue light
This has been time and time again. Staying up later to watch television or spend time on your smartphone or tablet exposes you to the dreaded blue light, which directly affects your ability to fall asleep due to the short wavelengths it gives off. However, red lights and those with warmer colors can actually promote the production of melatonin, making you feel tired faster.
Most smartphones and tablets today offer night shift modes that give the screen a yellow-ish tint rather than the harsh blue that keeps us up. Alternatively, buying a red light bulb (while not as aesthetically pleasing to some) can create a much more calming environment in a bedroom.
In order to fall asleep, your body is contingent on lowering your overall temperature. Sleeping in a hot room or with too many blankets can disturb your normal sleep process. In more advanced terms, your brain’s frontal lobe is the area that needs to be cooled to allow for sleep. For reference, insomniacs have been found to have a higher frontal cortex metabolism, preventing it from cooling down at night. Try setting the air conditioning a little lower or sleeping with a fan in the room to stay cooler throughout the night.
Get some sun
Simply exposing yourself to the early morning rays tells your brain that it’s time to start the day. Our circadian rhythms are reset in the morning, and being out in the sun supports this thanks to its suppression of melatonin. Avoiding the sunlight and suffering from fatigue throughout the day leads to either alertness later at night, or a decreased feeling of tiredness upon going to bed. Aim to gain sun exposure between the hours of 6:00-9:00am for optimal benefits. This can directly translate to a much more relaxed mind later on.