What Health Experts Do When They Can’t Sleep

Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes, even sleep experts and health professionals. When we’re lying awake at night, struggling in vain to fall asleep, we might wish we had a sleep expert there with us to tell us what to do. Luckily, if you have trouble falling asleep, we have put together this list of expert tips for falling asleep.

Don’t Panic

When people notice that they’ve been lying awake for a long time without falling asleep, stress is a common reaction. Panicking will only make falling asleep harder. If you’ve been laying awake for more than 20 minutes, it’s good to get out of bed and do something calm or boring for awhile, rather than struggling against your mind. After a while, you will likely start to feel tired, and you can return to bed to try again.

2-Hour Writing Rule

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of stress, anxiety, and a racing mind, then journaling can help unload some of these issues. Writing down your thoughts before bed can help you feel like you’re in control and make it easier to fall asleep at night. However, it’s best to journal at least 2 hours before bed, rather than right before. This gives your brain time to relax and think about something else after journaling, rather than bringing everything that is bothering you to the surface right before you try to sleep.

Glycine Supplements

Many people rely on sleep drugs or melatonin supplements to try to fall asleep at night, but these choices can shift your sleep schedule and leave you feeling lethargic the next day. Instead, taking three grams of glycine, an amino acid available over the counter, can give you better quality sleep without the negative side effects. As a bonus, you can take glycine any time of the night, because it doesn’t affect your sleep cycle.

*Important note: Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.

Picturing Words

The classic trick for falling asleep is counting sheep, but sleep experts have a more effective approach. You select a random word that helps you relax and focus. Then, you take slow, deep breaths, thinking of the word with each exhale. This meditative process helps to quiet your mind and shut out any thoughts besides that one word, allowing you to relax into sleep.

Skip Naps

Even if you’ve had trouble falling asleep the night before, leaving you exhausted during the day, try to avoid taking a nap. Resting during the day disrupts your sleep drive, which makes you less tired once it’s time to go to sleep at night. This creates a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break out of unless you stop napping. To fight exhaustion during the day after a restless night, try exercising or spending some time outside.

Separate Sheets

If you sleep in the same bed as another person, you may not be sleeping in your ideal conditions. You may be uncomfortable at night, but afraid to move in case you disturb your partner. For a simple solution, buy two sets of sheets. You can then adjust your temperature to your liking and move around without waking your partner.

The Cognitive Shuffle

Another way to relax your mind is to play the Cognitive Shuffle. Select a random letter, then start picturing words that begin with that letter. Go slowly, picturing your words in full before moving on. The theory behind this technique is that you’re signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep by initiating mind wandering and visualization.

Trouble Sleeping? Contact Us

In some cases, people find that sleep issues may be a symptom of a larger problem, like sleep apnea. If you are having trouble sleeping or getting quality sleep and believe that sleep apnea may be to blame, contact Dr. Brown and the sleep apnea professionals at Silent Night Therapy today at (631) 983-2463.