When it comes to terrible sleep at the worst possible times, we’ve all been there. For me, it was the nights leading up to my statistics exam. My anxiety and anticipation of the exam had me incapable of shutting off my brain at night.
This, of course, led to even more stress and anxiety, keeping me from eventually sleeping at all. My roommate suggested I try sleeping pills, which only made me punch drunk when I took the exam at noon the net day.
Shortly after that episode, I started looking into practical ways of preventing similar struggles in the future. I came across many, but these six ways have helped the most:
Whether it’s loud traffic outside, a snoring roommate, or the anxiety screaming in your head, you need a way to block it out. Look up white noise soundtracks on iTunes or YouTube to have playing by your bedside.
Not only will you no longer hear the annoying noises keeping you up, you should also find the background noise calming and easy to fall asleep to.
Stretching is one of the most effective body relaxation techniques. According to the direction of the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep in Seattle, you should clench the muscles of your body tightly for up to 10 seconds starting with your toes, and then follow up with a relaxing stretch. By the time you’re finished you will be ready to let go.
Daily routines have a major impact on your quality of sleep. Keeping a journal to organize your thoughts can help you prevent anxiety before bed.
Even better, try taking note of how much caffeine you drank, and how much exercise you got in, when you actually went to bed and when you woke up. That way you can share this information with your doctor.
It has been clinically proven that people sleep easier when their room temperature is kept at a cool 65 degrees or even lower. If you find yourself sweating each night, you may even want to try a cooling mattress pad or covers.
Rather than dwell on what you need to do tomorrow, or what you did wrong today, write your thoughts down.
It is therapeutic to get these thoughts down on paper some time before you even get to bed. Whether it is praying, meditating, or reading, find a bedtime routine that eases the mind.
When it comes to sleep, Reverse Psychology is your best friend. One of the best ways to alleviate sleep anxiety is to trick your mind into thinking that it must stay awake.
It often helps to find an activity that you can convince yourself you must do, such as reading one entire chapter or completing a page of your homework due next week.
The University of Glasgow found that sleep-onset insomniacs who were told to try to stay awake with their eyes open actually dozed off more quickly than the trial group that was told to sleep. Scientists call it a paradox of the mind that shifts the way we anticipate falling asleep.
The message is clear, the harder you try to work at sleeping, the more likely it will be that you fail.