I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about sleep and mental health-related topics as well as ways to prevent stress and relax.
In order to settle into a natural sleep schedule, you should be going to sleep only when you feel sleepy. For many people with insomnia, however, you may not feel sleepy at bedtime even though you are fatigued. This is a common problem that can make it very difficult to fall asleep.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself feel sleepy at bedtime. The following tips to get sleepy may be able to help you fall asleep more naturally at night. There is no one perfect solution for everyone, so you may want to try a few of these and perhaps use them in conjunction with other kinds of sleep therapy.
The Right Bedroom Environment for Sleep
A relaxing bedroom environment can make a big difference in how easy it is to fall asleep. Some simple steps can help to make your bedroom a better environment for sleeping. The primary rule to remember is that your bedroom should be a place designed for sleeping, with minimal distractions.
As much as possible, limit non-sleep activities you do in your bedroom. If you frequently watch TV or do work in your bed, for example, you will subconsciously associate your bedroom with those activities. If you only use your bed for sleeping, every time you get into bed, sleep is the only association your brain will form.
Other simple steps can reduce distractions that might prevent or interrupt your sleep. Make sure that you have sufficiently dark curtains or blinds over your windows so that bright light doesn’t wake you up too early in the morning. Other items that may create light, such as a phone or alarm clack, should be hidden from view. Having an alarm clock visible at your bedside table can actually be detrimental to your sleep.
If you habitually watch the clock while you try to fall asleep, you’re only building up anxiety about how much sleep you’re getting. Instead, turn your alarm clock so that you can’t see its face. If any sounds tend to disrupt your sleep during the night, try using a pair of earplugs or the sound of a fan to cover up the noise. Finally, if you can, set your bedroom to a slightly cooler temperature than what you have in your other living spaces (around 68°F is good for most people). Your core body temperature drops during sleep, and a room that’s too warm can stop it from dropping sufficiently.
Avoid Bright Lights
Our body’s natural sleep cycle is connected to the cycle of night and day outside. Light is one of the primary things that signals to our body whether it should be awake or sleeping. Blue light, in particular, makes us feel alert and awake. Blue light is present in sunlight, and it’s also present in many kinds of artificial lights, including TV screens, computer screens, phones, and indoor lighting. When you expose yourself to these light sources in the evening, your eyes associate them with daylight. This causes your body to slow down its production of melatonin, a hormone that is essential to promoting sleep.
This means that if you typically watch TV or use your computer right before going to bed, you’re making it harder for yourself to fall asleep. Do your best to minimize your exposure to bright lights in the hour or two before you go to bed. Instead of watching TV, try reading a book, listening to music, or playing a board game. Try to limit your time on your phone close to bedtime as well. You can help even more by dimming lights around your home close to when you’re going to bed. This will help to tell your brain that it can relax and keep melatonin production up.
Eating Habits to Facilitate Sleep
What you’re eating and drinking can also affect your sleep. As you probably already know, caffeine can make it much harder to fall asleep. You should avoid all foods that contain caffeine, such as coffee, black tea, and dark chocolate, after the morning. Caffeine can stay in your system for hours, so if you have insomnia, it’s a good idea to avoid it as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol late in the evening.
Alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, but it’s likely to make you wake up in the middle of the night. You should finish drinking any alcoholic beverages early enough that your body can metabolize all of them before you go to sleep. Alcohol can also result in snoring and obstructed airflow which would reduce the quality of your sleep. Heavy meals in the evening may also make it harder to fall asleep.
Foods that are rich in protein and fat take a long time to digest. This makes them good for providing energy during the day, but they can keep your body active too late if you eat them in the evening. Try to make your dinner a lighter meal and avoid really rich foods and heavy proteins. If you’re looking for a snack to help you fall asleep, a cup of caffeine-free tea or warm milk can help you to feel relaxed before bedtime.
Other How to Get Sleepy Tips
If you’re looking for more ways to bring on drowsiness, there are a number of other things you can do. Try taking a warm bath or shower before going to bed. The heat can help to physically relax your body, plus time in the bath is time away from electronics and bright lights. Try taking your bath by candlelight instead of lighting up the whole room.
A bath also helps you by causing your body’s temperature to rise and then drop. This temperature drop helps your body to get ready for sleep. There are also a number of relaxation techniques you can practice before bed to relieve yourself of stress and relax both physically and mentally. You might try progressive muscle relaxation to thoroughly relax your entire body, or try meditation to move your mind into a peaceful state. These techniques can be a great way to ease tension and anxiety, which often make sleep more difficult.
Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day
Sleep Disorders and Sleep Environment
We all want to sleep well every night, but sleep disorders are becoming more and more common. Many of us don’t sleep enough, don’t sleep deeply enough, or experience disrupted sleep. We want to improve our sleep, but often we don’t know how. There are many factors that can negatively impact sleep, ranging from environmental factors to psychological disorders.
Robert Rosenberg’s book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day attempts to address the difficulty of first understanding your trouble sleeping and then fixing that problem. His book is a comprehensive guide to different sleep problems and a range of solutions.
How to Use This Sleep Help Book
One of the best things about Rosenberg’s book is that it serves as both a source of information and a diagnostic tool. You can read to it gain a better understanding of sleep, and you can also use it to analyze your own issues with sleeping and then search for solutions. Rosenberg has organized the book well to start with a foundation of general knowledge and then move into specific sleep disorders.
Readers can start by taking a self-test about the symptoms of your sleeping problem. This test shows you which chapters you should focus on later. Part One of the book then provides general information about sleep. This part starts by explaining how important sleep is (in case you weren’t already convinced) and then provides some great general tips on good sleep habits. These tips can help anyone to improve their sleep, so they’re a good place to start.
Next, in Parts Two and Three, the book is broken down into chapters that address specific sleep problems. Based on the self-test in chapter one or on your own suspicions about what’s causing your sleep problems, you can skip to the chapters that you think relate to you. These chapters help you to check whether each problem is relevant to you and then suggest a few different options for treatment.
The organization of the book is really helpful. If you take the time to read through it in the way Rosenberg intended, you’ll finish the book equipped with both general and individualized information about sleep.
Are You Looking to Find Good Sleep?
Part One of Rosenberg’s book, called “Sleep Foundations for Your Best Life,” is a really in-depth look at sleep. Chapter two explains why sleep is so important to our bodies and how not getting enough sleep effects us. This can be a really great motivator for working to improve your sleep. If you already know how sleep affects you and are anxious to move onto solutions, you could skip to chapter three.
Chapter three provides general practical tips for getting good sleep, such as creating an ideal bedroom environment and establishing a routine that aids sleep. Personally, I found these tips really helpful. You’ll want to keep reading to find solutions that work for your particular problem, but these "how to get sleepy tips" are a good accompaniment to any other treatment.
Diagnostic Tool for Sleep Problems
In my opinion, the most valuable parts of this book are Parts Two, Three, and Four. Rosenberg is really thorough and goes through every conceivable sleeping problem. Part Two addresses sleep impairments such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
Part Three goes over parasomnia behaviors such as sleepwalking, night eating, and sexsomnia. Part Four discusses psychiatric issues related to sleep such as PTSD and ADHD. Altogether, the information in these chapters covers just about every possible cause of sleep problems.
You can use the test in chapter one or your own knowledge to know which chapters to check first. Each chapter includes a description of what the particular disorder or issue is, a relatable example, a symptoms checklist, a number of treatment options, and answers to common questions.
Rosenberg doesn’t skimp on information. There’s a lot of detailed knowledge in each chapter, and there are multiple treatment options. This book was published about a year ago (in June 2014), so it might not include the latest medical knowledge and treatment information.
However, it’s a really thorough tool to check your symptoms against the symptoms of different sleeping problems and find a number of possible solutions. With his extensive “Answers to Your Questions,” you’re unlikely to have any lingering questions at the end of a chapter. Rosenberg’s book really is a thorough diagnostic tool to help you understand and improve your sleeping problems. If you are looking for a good book with tips on how to get sleepy this is one of them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2016 Sam Shepards
Kawai from Singapore on May 14, 2016:
Didn't realise that the cooler temperature helps with sleep too..but I note that I do wake up several times at night when the weather is particularly hot..thanks for the tips!