5 Science-Backed Tips For Better Sleep When You Can’t Get Any Shuteye

Try these science-backed tips for better sleep

It's 1:00 am and you’re still wide awake. You ‘ve spent the last two and a half hours getting into every position you can think of and tossing and turning until your sheets are a mess.

"I have to get up in four hours," you say to yourself. "I need to get some sleep!"

But nothing works—your eyes just will not close no matter how hard you try.

There could be a number of reasons why you can't sleep. Your bedroom is not cool enough; Or, you’re worried about something; You’re using electronic devices or watching TV right before bed; The list goes on and on.

So what can you do besides stare at the wall and wait for sleep to find you? Well, it is actually not as hard as one would think according to the psychological field. They have some pretty neat tricks to help you get your forty winks. There is even one that might surprise you with its myth-busting facts! Let’s take a look at these science-backed tips for better sleep.

1. Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Method

Believe it or not, the way you breathe when you are trying to get to sleep can be very relaxing. It must be extremely slow and controlled breathing. There are various time lengths but they are all based on the same thing. One version is to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds. Yet, the most popular version is Dr. Andrew Weil's method in which you inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds.

Try both versions—and other breathing exercises—to see which one works best for you. You will be concentrating so much on your breathing your brain will not have time to think of anything else and you will soon be off to dreamland.

2. Surround Your Bedroom with Soothing Aromatherapy

Are you sensitive to certain fragrances? If you are one that loves the smell of lavender, perhaps a lavender candle or lavender oil diffuser in your bedroom will make you drift off to Snooze Town. The Wesleyan University did a study in 2005 that showed people slept better and were more energetic the next morning when breathing in the scent of lavender.

Why not give it a try for a few nights? Light a lavender candle or lavender oil diffuser, get comfortable in bed, close your eyes and deeply breathe the lavender scent for 2 minutes; stop for 10 minutes then repeat. Do this three times—if you are not already asleep!

Other wonderful scents to help you fall asleep and calm your mind are damask rose and chamomile.

3. Don't Count Sheep. Count Numbers—Backwards!

When we could not get to sleep as kids our parents always told us to count sheep. Surprisingly, counting sheep is a big myth—it does not do a thing to guide you into slumber or quiet your brain according to the University of Oxford's study. What they did find, however, was that distractions work best.

Counting sheep is too simple because you are counting in sequential order; if you really want to count something, count numbers backward by groups of three or four. For example, begin with, say, 200 then count down to 197, 194, 191, etc. While you are counting, try to envision the numbers creating a pattern or being written on a pad of paper. This will give your mind some exercise and a bit of a challenge that will have you catching zzz's in no time at all.

4. Concentrate on Relaxing Images or Guided Imagery

Okay, so maybe counting doesn't quite work for you either. So now what do you do? Well, in that same Oxford University study mentioned above, scientists also discovered that people went to sleep 20 minutes sooner if they focused on calming images like mountains, clouds or beaches. So when it is finally bedtime, close your eyes and think about your favorite tranquil vacation spot, allowing yourself to zero in on every splendid detail. The more details you conjure up the more relaxed you will be and sleep will soon follow.

Another terrific technique is something like meditation and it is called guided imagery. How does it work, you ask? Great question! According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), first, you must be in an extremely comfy position in your bed then slow your breathing. Next, immerse yourself in a memory or situation. The NSF states this needs to be something unique to you; something that does not just make you smile but rather completely relaxes you. Perhaps you will want to picture baking cookies with Grandma, your childhood treehouse or playing with your best friend. It must be something you are emotionally attached to—you can't just pick something off the Travel Channel. Let a walk down memory lane drift you off to sleep.

5. Pour Your Thoughts Out Before Bed

Many people find they can't sleep simply because they are stressed out or have too much on their mind. Journaling seems to have a positive effect. Take 5-15 minutes before climbing into bed to scribble down everything that happened during your day—do not worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar, just write.

It is important that you do not just write about events, but rather how you felt like things were happening. If there were things left unsolved, jot it down and then write the solution. Maybe there were things that you did not get done during the day—according to a report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, making a to-do list for the next day is quite effective in calming your brain. No matter what you write, always write negative stuff first (conflicts, sadness, problems, etc.), then the positive stuff (accomplishments, laughing, talking with a friend, etc.). When you are done writing, you will be more relaxed and in a better frame of mind for sleeping.

So some night when your eyes are still wide open at midnight and you are struggling to get to sleep, try one—or a few—of these science-backed tips for better sleep. You will be getting your beauty sleep before you know it! To get more fantastic sleeping tips or find out how we can help, please contact us.

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