Do you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, unable to fall asleep or stay asleep? Restlessness and insomnia can leave you exhausted and irritable the next day. If you struggle with restlessness at night, there are several strategies you can try to help your mind and body relax so you can finally get some much-needed shut-eye.
Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule is key for reducing restlessness at night. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm so your body expects to be sleeping during the nighttime hours. Avoid napping during the daytime as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Create a Relaxing Pre-Bed Routine
What you do in the hour before bedtime sets the stage for how rested you’ll feel overnight. Make it a habit to follow a relaxing pre-bed routine. Dim the lights, listen to calming music, take a warm bath or shower, read a book, or practice deep breathing exercises. This transitions your body and mind into a more restful state before you hit the pillow. Avoid stimulating activities like exercise, work, or screens as these can keep your mind too active for sleep.
Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary for Sleep
Design your bedroom to be dark, cool, and tech-free. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block outside light. Set the thermostat to around 65°F which facilitates sleep. Remove all electronics like TVs, computers, and smartphones from your bedroom since their lights and sounds can interfere with sleep. Your bedroom should only be used for sleep and intimacy so your brain associates the room with rest, not wakefulness.
Limit Liquids and Large Meals Before Bed
Drinking too many fluids and eating heavy foods too close to bedtime can lead to midnight bathroom trips or indigestion that disrupt sleep. Stop drinking liquids a few hours before bed so you won’t have to get up and urinate overnight. Avoid spicy, fatty, or sugary foods which can cause acid reflux or bloating while lying down. A light snack before bed is fine, but be sure to finish eating at least two to three hours before you want to fall asleep.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress and racing thoughts are common causes of restlessness at night. Taking time to relax and clear your mind before bed can help you feel less anxious. Practices like meditation, deep breathing, gratitude journaling, or light yoga are great ways to calm your nervous system. If you can’t stop worrying, get up and write down your thoughts on paper until you feel sleepy again. Putting them on paper can help set them aside so you don’t ruminate on them all night.
Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
Consuming caffeine or nicotine too close to bed makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can persist in your body for up to 8 hours. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soda at least 6-8 hours before your desired bedtime. Nicotine is also a stimulant, so avoid smoking cigarettes or vaping late in the day.
Try Natural Sleep Aids
Some natural supplements can help induce relaxation and sleepiness without the side effects of medication. Herbal teas containing chamomile, passionflower, or valerian root have mild sedating properties. Taking a warm milk and honey drink, magnesium supplement, or CBD oil before bed may also help you unwind. Melatonin is a popular over-the-counter sleep aid that can help reset your circadian rhythm. Always start with the lowest dose recommended on the label.
Use Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups to relieve tension in your body that may be contributing to restlessness. Start at your feet and work your way up to your head. Tense each muscle group for 5 seconds, then release for 30 seconds. Taking deep breaths with each cycle further helps your body decompress.
Get Up If You Can’t Fall Asleep
If you still can’t fall asleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, don’t keep tossing and turning in frustration. Get out of bed and do a quiet activity like reading or listening to soothing music until you feel sleepy again. Lying in bed stressed that you can’t sleep will only make restlessness worse. Letting your mind relax somewhere else can help break the cycle.
Talk to Your Doctor if Restlessness Persists
If you regularly struggle to fall or stay asleep for over 3 months, make an appointment with your doctor. They can screen for any underlying conditions contributing to chronic insomnia or restlessness at night. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome may be diagnosed. Your doctor may recommend changing medications, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or prescribe short-term sleep medication if needed. Don’t assume restlessness is something you just have to live with – see a professional to improve your sleep.
Making a few lifestyle adjustments and adopting some relaxation techniques can make a big difference in reducing restlessness at night. Be consistent with these changes and soon you’ll be drifting off to sleep more easily. Sweet dreams!