You’ve tried all the sleep tips out there. Your room is dark, you go to bed at the same time.. but these sleep remedies for adults just aren’t working. Here are 3 science backed ways on how to get better sleep.
For your convenience, I’ve included affiliate links in this post. They are all products I recommend! If you purchase from my link, you pay nothing extra, however I may receive a small commission.
I put down my book and tried to close my eyes. It was 11:30PM, my husband dozed beside me.
The Woman in Cabin 10 spiked my heart rate. One of those books that I had to finish.
I thought I could stop thinking about it as soon as I turned the last page.
Nope. With my adrenaline spiked, I couldn’t fall asleep.
No hope whatsoever.
What to do but stare at the ceiling?
How many nights have you been in this scenario?
In the midst of my stomach issues last year, I used to lie awake and scroll through Google search queries trying to prove to myself that I didn’t have cancer.
(That’s on one side of crazy)
But then there are the moments that I think of all the drafts I have to write and the plans I need to make for this week’s Girl Scout meeting that sleep becomes a state I can’t qite seem to achieve. And yet, I lay there, close my eyes…
And curse that evil sleep monster for not arriving.
We know that sleep is necessary for both our energy and sanity. But what can we do when we just can’t fall asleep?
Science has a few ideas.
Why everything you’ve tried before isn’t working…
Out of all the sleep advice, the one about going to sleep and waking up at the same time is the least appealing.
Pshaw… wake up at 5am everyday, even on weekends? What are you? Mad?
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say otherwise. Apparently “being consistent [in your sleep routine] reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.”1
Keeping a regular schedule is part of a larger set of behaviors termed sleep hygiene.
These are all the basic recommendations such as keeping a dark bedroom, not drinking caffeine past a certain time and stopping all use of electronic devices.
You’ve heard all these before…
But, guess what?
Improving your sleep hygiene is not the best way to get better sleep.
(That’s me doing the happy dance for not having to wake up at 5 am on Saturday!)
Stopping Your Racing Mind
In a research review regarding improving sleep among college students, scientists found that sleep hygiene had only a minimal positive effect.
So, what does?
Cognitive behavioral therapy.
What?? What does this mean?
However, you can take advantage of a few of these techniques right now.
Set an Intentional Planning Time
You may be clutching onto specific beliefs or attitudes that are preventing you from sleeping.
Are you thinking about your insanely busy morning tomorrow?o
Debating the best way to get both of your kids to their after-school activities on opposite ends of town?
You can solve these issues by giving yourself an hour of intentional planning time in the early afternoon or evening.
Some might refer to it as a worry time, but I think that has a negative connotation. Why do you want to set aside time to worry?
Instead, focus on you how you will get stuff done!
During your planning time, take out your planner and think about your day tomorrow.
Time block out all the activities, projects, appointments. Put in on paper and see if all your time commitments work.
When you see it written down, your mind is free to relax.
Restrict your time in bed
What if, instead of laying in bed waiting to fall asleep, you set a limit on how much time you spent laying there?
Known as sleep restriction therapy, this technique forces you to only spend a set amount of time lying there.
For instance, if you are spending 7 hours in bed under your fluffy comforter but 2 hours of it are spent simply lying there staring at your ceiling, you restrict yourself to only 5 hours in bed.
Many studies have shown that sleep becomes better as a result of deprivation. According to a research study, “subjects fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, have fewer awakenings and easily maintain sleep until a wakeup call.” when they are deprived of sleep.
Sleep restriction therapy takes advantage of the benefits of sleep deprivation while dealing with daytime sleepiness as a temporary side effect.
As you find you’re sleeping better, you gradually increase the amount of time you spend in bed.
I used to have a hard time sitting in silence.
My brain wanted to think, deliberate and worry about why my stomach was growling or contemplate buying a box of Samoas stashed in my garage.
According to a Neurology journal, “It appears that various components of sleep generating mechanisms can be altered with meditation.”3
Meditation is all about quieting the mind and stopping all those racing thoughts.
However – oh man – it takes a ton of practice.
I’m using an app on my phone called Headspace to improve my meditating skills – and yes, they can be called skills.
Andy, a former Buddhist monk with an Aussie accent, guides me through a 10-minute meditation each day. It’s punctuated with fun little animations explaining meditation principles as well as digital rewards for meditating for so many days in a row.
After doing it for over a month, I notice that when I get upset with my kids or overwhelmed, I’m repeating to myself “there’s always blue sky” or “these worries are like cars passing by”.
Totally works to calm the mind. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
By using techniques such as sleep restriction, meditation and setting an intentional planning time, you can quiet your mind and sleep easier.
Stopping your mind from thinking and worrying takes a ton of practice – I won’t lie – and you may feel like you’ll never gain control.
But the better you sleep, I swear, the better you feel. It’s a goal worth striving for and worth putting time and money in.
Your mental state affects your kids and family.
You are worth the effort.