It's 1:39 am. Are you still counting sheep?
(Unless you're in a mattress commercial.)
If you are still awake, it's not wooly animals you're thinking about. More than likely, you're tossing and turning thinking about work and family. You're flipping the pillow to the cool side and wondering how many hours you might have left to get some rest… if you could actually fall asleep in the first place.
The causes of insomnia are numerous, but it goes without saying that daytime stress will keep you up at night. Before going to bed, try to give yourself some time to unwind. Here are a few more tips for falling asleep sooner.
• Cut the cord. Most people like to spend some time catching up on their favorite shows, browsing the web or using their smartphone shortly before bed. While these activities might seem relaxing, the brightness of the screen prevents your body from releasing melatonin, a hormone needed for sleep. Your body interprets the artificial light from these sources as daylight. To fall asleep faster, try getting away from the screen at least an hour before bed.
• Run a bath. Since you shouldn't watch TV before bed, try passing the time with a long soak in the tub. A hot bath will raise your body temperature. As you cool off later, your body will get the signal that it's time for sleep.
• Cool down. Many people find they sleep best under a warm blanket, in a cool room. Consider opening the window or running the AC a little higher for a few minutes before bed for a better night of rest.
• Make your bedroom a haven. Is your mattress comfortable? Is your bedroom cluttered? Is it sufficiently dark at night? Is it hot or stuffy? Consider making a few adjustments. More so than any other room in your home, your bedroom should be a place you can relax.
• Get into a routine. For some people, this is the hardest part. “Routine” may seem impossible in your busy life. It's best if you can go to sleep each night at the same time, even on the weekends. But if you can't manage that, at least get into a mini-routine of doing the same things each night before bed. For example, let the dog out, bathe, have a cup of tea (without caffeine, of course,) and read for a few minutes each night: in the same order. Repetition of a few simple tasks will help you unwind and prepare for rest.