We’ve all been there. You’re tossing and turning in bed and counting sheep, but can’t seem to get any shuteye.
You feel tired; your body is exhausted. But you can’t get it to fall asleep. You have to be up in five hours. What to do?
In fact, Millennials are the most sleepless generation, with just 29 percent reporting a good night’s sleep, and the rest tossing and turning over a work problem, breakup, Netflix binge or Instagram.
Have no fear.
There are plenty of hacks and tricks you can use to help your body get that deep sleep it deserves.
1. Do some yoga.
Yoga is proved to promote relaxation of the body and mind, and yogis swear by a routine to help them sleep deeply thanks to its effect on slowing down your heart rate and breathing.
There are numerous bedtime sequences for people of all levels. They’re full of gentle stretches, deep breathing and relaxing twists that can all be done in your bed. Score.
Here is a beginner winding-down routine that can be done in your pajamas, in the comfort of your bed.
2. Or do other relaxation exercises.
If yoga isn’t your thing, you can do other relaxation exercises like deep breathing and basic stretching.
Or opt for simple meditation. YouTube is filled with guided sleep meditation videos to help with relaxation.
It also means reading a book or drawing — whatever is a calming activity that can get your body to shift into sleep mode.
The Sleep Foundation suggests having a bedtime ritual to get in the habit of falling asleep and separating sleep activities from other daily activities.
One study found those who imagined a relaxing scene like the beach fell asleep an average of 20 minutes sooner than when they counted sheet or did nothing, according to Mental Floss.
3. Drink warm milk.
Your mom may have been right; it’s a remedy that’s been praised for its ability to soothe you and help you fall asleep.
However, it’s important to note the jury is still out on whether or not milk actually helps with sleep.
The idea is that milk contains tryptophan (the same stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy), but the exact effects tryptophan has on sleep habits is unclear.
But it can spark pleasant moments and peaceful memories of your mother helping you fall asleep, which can put you in a state of relaxation.
4. Stay away from electronics.
We’ve all heard of this one before, so why do we still swear by Snapchatting in bed?
A Pew study found 83 percent of Millennials sleep with their phones nearby. This is a problem for numerous reasons.
First, it’s a trap for you to stay up longer than you intended, with all the distractions of a phone or laptop turning into a wormhole with no return.
But more importantly, science supports the light from screens can be detrimental to your sleep. One study even concludes it even can erode your alertness the next day.
So pick up a real book, and avoid electronics at least an hour before going to bed.
5. Dim your room.
Just like our ancestors, we have the sun during the day and the moon at night. Our bodies are biologically programmed that way, so sitting in a bright room at 10 pm will confuse your body.
In the dark, our body produces melatonin, which helps us sleep. Light suppresses melatonin production.
Io9 points out a study that shows exposure to light before bedtime shortens melatonin production by 90 minutes, and exposure to light during usual hours of sleep cuts melatonin production by half.
Sleep experts suggest dimming your room ahead of time to signal your body to start winding down for sleep.
6. Work out in the morning.
As we’ve previously reported, early exposure to light can trigger your body to wind down at night. Moreover, one study found morning exercise triggers a 25 percent reduction in blood pressure at night, which is correlated with better sleep.
With exercise already proved to help sleep at night, why not do it in the morning to help you fall asleep faster?
7. Play soothing tunes.
Soothing music or white noise (think beach waves) can help you relax and get you to fall asleep more quickly.
One study that found 35 percent of participants reported better sleep after playing soft tunes before sleeping.
It also helps block out any noises like a roommate watching TV, traffic or voices, and helps you focus on what’s important: a relaxing night of sleep.
8. Adjust your room and feet to the right temperature.
Studies have shown the optimal sleeping temperature is anywhere between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
But your internal thermostat is reportedly all in your feet. So if that’s too cold, slip on a pair of socks to speed up the process, or if you’re hot, stick your feet out from under the covers.
9. Have a warm bath before sleeping.
Your body temperature dips before sleeping, so a hot bath results in a dramatic cool-down period that eases you into sleep.
Make the most of it and light some lavender incense (it's been found lavender helps women with insomnia fall asleep quicker), candles and play soothing music for utmost relaxation.
Research shows those who take warm baths before sleeping fall asleep faster and report better quality of sleep.
10. Keep a journal.
A lot of what keeps you up at night is your thoughts. Whatever it is, writing out your problem and plan of approach in a journal will help you organize your thoughts so they don’t bother you when you sleep.
11. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals.
While you might feel like you're knocked out after a night of drinking, alcohol only diminishes your sleep quality, with numerous studies noting how it hinders your body’s ability to reach REM sleep, the deepest level of sleep.
Moreover, caffeine, a stimulant, can hang around your system if you drink it later in the day. Joyce Walsleben, PhD and associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine tells Health even decaffeinated coffee, as well as soda, contains bits of caffeine that can keep you up if you’re particularly sensitive.
She adds nicotine is also a stimulant. So that cigarette before bed might actually be doing the opposite of relaxing you.
On the food front, The Sleep Foundation suggests avoiding big or spicy meals before bed, or two to three hours before bedtime, because it will put your digestive system into overdrive, which will likely keep you up at night.
CNN notes protein is the hardest to digest and suggests a lighter dinner.
12. Have sex.
Daily Mail cites a survey concluding one in six women reported better sleep after sex. That’s a fun way to try to catch some ZZZs.
Women’s Health Magazine lays it all out. Sex boosts oxytocin production and lowers cortisol, which is associated with stress. The post-sex hormonal balance is a recipe for relaxation.
For women, estrogen levels also increase, and that better your chances of reaching REM sleep, they add.
Moreover, a survey of 400 British doctors came to the conclusion that sex before bedtime is one of the best ways to guarantee a smooth ride to Dreamland.
13. Make your bed your sanctuary.
Lastly, if you can’t sleep, partake in other activities outside your room. And that includes reading.
You should reserve the bed for sleep and sex only, to strengthen the association between the bed and sleep, the Sleep Foundation suggests.