By now, everybody knows how essential sleep is to health, your mental state and even your skin. But try telling yourself that when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m. Here’s the thing, though: No one has ever died from a night of insomnia. “People think ‘If I have a bad night’s sleep, all these bad things are going to happen to me,’” says Alanna McGinn, founder of Good Night Sleep Site. “Take that pressure off yourself.” To avoid the temptation of checking the clock every 30 minutes, McGinn recommends turning it around or stashing your phone on the other side of the room. “The only time you need to know is the time you go to bed.”
IN THE A.M. According to McGinn, a good night’s sleep starts the moment you wake up. Write down motivational sayings like “I love my bed and I love sleeping in it” or “I’m going to sleep so well tonight” on Post-its and stick them on your fridge or mirror. We know it’s corny, but repeating these mantras will (eventually—remember it takes three weeks for a habit to form) trick your brain into thinking you’re a good sleeper.
AT YOUR 9-TO-5 Schedule a personal pause. Part of the reason our troubles seem to blast on repeat as soon as we lie down is because we’ve been avoiding our feelings all day, says McGinn. “Instead of pushing worries and anxieties aside and having them flood your brain at night, give yourself a minute or two a few times a day to think about them.” Better yet, mull these feelings over when you’re at the gym—regular exercise reduces stress (an insomnia trigger) and may even help regulate your circadian clock. Just don’t do it too close to bedtime or you’ll be up all night.
AT NIGHT Deep-breathing techniques work. McGinn’s favourite is a four-seven-eight format: Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and let it all out for eight seconds. Repeat. And skip the midnight snack: Eating wakes up your metabolism, which will keep you awake too. Not to mention that any nightcap could mean you’re up in the middle of the night.
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.
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