It is not uncommon nowadays you may not be able to sleep at night because of stress at work. There are many ways to help you to fall asleep. Sometimes, however, it is just an obstacle you cannot “overcome” simply.
A long time ago I read a definition of insomnia saying that if you cannot fall asleep within 45 minutes, then you are officially in insomnia. So even if you are able to sleep for a couple of hours, having not enough sleep at night, especially when you have the time, but the mind/body just wouldn’t rest until it is very late, qualifies you to be sleeplessness. You will feel the impact of deprivation of sleep.
There is a Chinese saying that when you are sick for a long time, you become the doctor. I am no doctor in any sense, but I have experience to share with you.
Exercise is the healthiest way. There are many different exercises or sports for you to choose. Swimming is one of the best choices because there is a high chance you will feel sleepy afterwards. No swimming pool nearby? Just go running for, say, 15 minutes. Aerobic exercises like these can calm you down. Normally your mind tends to think less during the exercise. Personally I prefer workout at gym.
The problem is, sometimes you have not enough sleep for a couple of nights already. Is exercise still a good idea? My suggestion is, if you think you are not totally exhausted, do exercise but not as long/intense as you would in good conditions. If you can run 2 miles, just take 1. If you can bench press 100 pounds (e.g. 3 sets 8 reps), just do 70 pounds. Often light exercises can help you tune your sleep cycle back to normal. But if you are really tired because of sleeplessness, wait until you can sleep more, e.g. at weekend, before you go exercise. Avoiding injury is also important, so don’t over-force yourself when you are not in shape.
Recently I have found that stretching also works. I think it relates to me being a tense guy at times. I do not have any special routine for stretching. I did it just like warming up before exercise. Yet, just by 5 to 10 minutes of stretching moves/positions it becomes easier for me to fall asleep. And what is even better is you do not need to go anywhere or get anything. You can just stretch on your bed. It is the most convenient way and whenever you cannot sleep, just try it out!
Needless to say, it is also a form of exercise. So in addition to helping your sleep, it is also good to your health. And since it is a very light exercise, even if you cannot sleep after stretching, it will not exhaust you.
Even though I have not tried yoga, I think it is like an advanced form of stretching. Feel free to share your experience with me.
3. Hot bath
I tried this when I had short overnight trips for work. There was an affordable hotel in which some rooms were equipped with a decent bath tub (for an extra US$1.5 a night). So I sat in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour playing with my phone or reading. Since hot water should have increased my blood circulation, physically I should have felt more excited. Yet I felt relaxed afterwards. Therefore it helped.
I just had a funny discussion with a friend on Facebook about how reading makes one fall asleep. I am a strange exception because even though I feel sleepy reading something, when I put down the book I become less sleepy. He said that is impossible if you read some boring textbook.
I want to say, if a certain textbook is so boring, I will certainly not start reading it and throw it away. If I need to study it for a course/examination, I will tolerate the boredom. But then I wouldn’t want to fall asleep, would I? Interestingly contradictory.
I suppose reading is useful to many people. If you have a magazine at hand, you can probably sleep in 10 minutes sitting on an armchair, or in a flight. And yes, we all have our smartphones or tablets and reading e-books/e-zines, and the light emitted from them may trick our body to thought it is not sleeping time. If you do not have problem sleeping from the beginning, it is probably not a good idea to develop the habit of staring at these screens. For me, my tablet has helped me to sleep and I think it works better than a book/magazine.
Generally relaxing music can help sleeping, though I can still recall a schoolmate who could sleep with loud rock music without difficulty. Actually I witnessed that in his university dorm room. For me, I used to listening to jazz for the purpose. I think listening to pop songs may not be the best type of music, because you may sing along. (smile) It is totally fine if singing can help you sleep.
6. Watching soccer match
I was not especially into soccer until almost 10 years ago, when I found a fascinating game – Football Manager. I liked that it quite resembled the real life situation of managing a club. I understood a lot more through this game, and it was not just football, management also. You can read my post on LinkedIn.
The funny thing is, I often fall asleep when I watch soccer matches. Probably it is because the score changes slower than basketball/volleyball/tennis/badminton/snooker etc. For me, this is kind of like reading to many others.
Hope this helps. Wish you get the sleep you need. Feel free to share your way of getting to sleep easily. (Perhaps you are bored by this you fall asleep before finishing it. :))
(post from my earlier blog in 2017)