9 Ways to get sleepy

Susannah Hickling

Struggling to get some shut eye? You're not alone. These tips will help you to get some much-needed rest

Around a third of us have insomnia. Long-term sleep problems are associated with health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, depression, weight gain and heart problems, but there are proven strategies that can help you drop off at night.

 

1. Love the dark

Bright light delays the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body clock and promotes sleep, so make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Consider blackout blinds or an eye mask.

 

2. Get moving

Wear yourself out with exercise and you’ll sleep better. Just 30 minutes of physical activity can help. But don’t exercise too near bedtime, as it will wake you up at just the time you need to be winding down.

 

3. Be a sun seeker

Too much light at night is a no-no, but a blast of sunlight in the morning can wake you up and keep your circadian rhythm—this regulates the sleep-wake cycle—on track. We’re not talking about hours of sunbathing—that’s just bad for you—but take your morning coffee in the garden or your daily walk before lunch.

 

4. Turn on the white noise

A snoring partner, noisy neighbours or even the local cats can stop you falling asleep. If you’re going to have sound, it’s better for it to be consistent. Try a white noise app or YouTube video, or even a sound machine. In summer, a fan can serve a similar purpose.

 

5. Cut back on bevvies

Caffeine remains in your body for hours after you consume it, so opt for decaf tea or coffee after noon. Alcohol can make you restless. It can also exacerbate sleep apnea, in which you momentarily stop breathing and wake up gasping for air. Lay off the booze for several hours before bed.

 

6. Check your screen time

Smart phones, laptops, tablets, TVs—they all emit blue light, which can stop you nodding off. Avoid screens an hour before bed if you want uninterrupted ZZZs. It’s also a good idea to switch off notifications or put your phone on silent.

 

7. Read an actual book

If you’re not reading or watching something online, then a physical book (rather than an e-reader which emits blue light) is a great option. Concentrating should make you feel more sleepy (hands up all those who nod off a few paragraphs in!).

 

8. Get your timing right

Sticking to a routine helps your sleep cycle. Don’t be tempted to stay up late and have a lie-in at weekends. Go to bed at a set time every night and get up at the same time. That said, don’t go to bed too early before you feel tired.

 

9. Ask for help

Stubborn insomnia, especially if you have anxiety or depression, probably needs professional help. And sleep apnea can raise the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, as well as putting you at higher risk of accidents, so always consult a doctor.

Read more: How to sleep well in lockdown

Read more: 9 Reasons why masturbation is good for you


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter