10 Simple Sleep Tricks to Try The Next Time You Have Trouble Falling Asleep

published Aug 31, 2019
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Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep (and… who among us hasn’t?) you’ve probably sampled some kind of sleep remedy or tactic to help you stop tossing and turning in bed. In the past year alone, I’ve tried watching a gentle TV show (right now, I’m really into “House Hunters International”), melatonin gummies, calming nature sounds, deep breathing—you name it, I’ve probably tested it out.

But I know that there are probably tons of other things to try—and that maybe insomnia’s silver bullet is hiding out there somewhere—so I asked the Apartment Therapy staff to share their best techniques on nights when the Land of Nod seems like a foreign country. Here are some of their best tips:

1. Visualize walking through a familiar place

“I visualize walking through my grandparents’ house. I imagine how it smells, how things look on the walls, where each room is, everything involved with being in there. They’ve since passed, so I haven’t been to that house recently, but weirdly, it still works.”

2. Try progressive muscle relaxation

“When I was younger, my dad, who’s a doctor, taught me progressive muscle relaxation. You focus on one muscle at a time, from your toes up, making sure it feels relaxed, so that your whole body calms down. So I’ll think about all of the places I’ve walked with my feet before I let them relax and move on. I still do that when I can’t sleep, and I never make it all the way up to my head.”

3. Attempt to touch your toes

“I can’t touch my toes, so I stand up and try really hard to do it. It focuses my brain and then I go to sleep.”

4. Do something productive

“I feel like a lot of peoples’ advice is to “not try to fall asleep,” so I get up and do stuff. I also wake up in the middle of the night a lot, so then I groggily ask Alexa to put on sleep sounds.”

5. Listen to a podcast

“I usually listen to a podcast. Right now, my favorite is ‘Scare You to Sleep,’ where someone with a soothing voice reads you scary stories.”

6. Get fully in chill mode

“I meditate and/or take CBD oil.”

7. Watch a favorite movie

“I put on a movie I’ve seen 1,000 times before. Lately, it’ s been ‘Mean Girls’ or ‘Divergent’.”

8. Read a boring book

“I just read, but I don’t read my beachy books or ones I zip through. I try to read a more challenging book that’s harder and slower to get through.”

9. Mentally pretend you’re doing something you’ve done a bunch of times

“I’ll do an old ballet performance in my head. A lot were to classical music, which helps. Or, I’ll think through the steps of cooking or baking.”

10. And… just pretend you’re already asleep

“I was scared of pirates as a child, so I imagined they were in my room meeting—and as long as they thought I was asleep, they wouldn’t bother me. Pretending to sleep actually always helped me fall asleep, so I still do it, but I don’t think about pirates anymore.”

Will you try any of these techniques? What’s your go-to move when you can’t fall asleep?