There’s nothing worse than lying in bed for hours, hoping against hope that sleep will come, only having it continue to elude you. Sometimes this is as a result of too much stimulation before bed, of not keeping to a routine, or of not expending enough energy during our day (if you’re an office worker, for example, and don’t get regular exercise to tire out your body.) Whatever the reason is, it can be frustrating and lead to us dragging our moping bodies throughout the next day. Over time it can even lead to a decline in health and well being. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track so you can spend your night time hours dreaming blissfully away.

  1. Avoid stimulants several hours before bed. Experts disagree on how many hours, exactly, so keeping notes and tracking what works best for you is a good practise. Nicotine, alcohol, soft drinks and chocolate are all culprits.

  2. Turn your bedroom into a space that invites and welcomes sleep. Close your blinds or curtains, turn off light sources, and turn on white noise (like a fan) if that’s something that helps block out other noises that might be keeping you awake. If you’re a clock watcher, turn that clock around to face the wall or put it out of reach.

  3. Before bedtime, devote your time to activities that help you to relax and wind down. This can mean listening to soothing music, taking a bath, or reading.

  4. Avoid screen stimulants an hour before bed. Many people find it hard to avoid screen time, but your TV, IPad and other game systems can fire up your brain and adrenaline and cause you to lie awake afterwards.

  5. Get enough exercise during the day. Morning is a great time for workouts if you can fit it in, but any exercise (no within 4 hours of bedtime) is a great way to tire your body enough that you will help it to fall asleep more easily at night.

  6. Check medications for reasons why you’re not sleeping. Restlessness or insomnia can be a side effect of many medications, and if you’ve eliminated other possibilities or are sure that your medications are working against you, see your doctor for suggestions or even other options.

  7. Keeping your room nice and cool will help to allow you to sleep. Being too warm can either keep us awake or wake us after we’ve already fallen asleep. Keep the room cool enough that you’re not cold, but that it feels good to tuck under your bedding and avoid the likelihood that you’ll wake up in a sweat.

  8. Stick to a bedtime routine. If you follow a similar routine most nights, this will help your body and brain identify that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. It also helps if you stick to a wake up routine as well, and get out of bed at a set time each morning.