6 Ways To Shake Up Your Sleep Routines

I have always been a terrible sleeper. I'm a tosser, I'm a turner, I'm a sit-upright-at-3 a.m.-and-have-a-panic-attack, kind of sleeper — or non-sleeper. My head picks up speed the second I turn the lights out. As people on the other sides of the walls drift off into a peaceful sleep with heavy snores, I start to stress about everything I did the day before and everything I have to do the following day.

Behind my eyelids a laser light show plays. The harder I try to fall asleep, the more my heart races and the farther I get from sleep. I chase after it for hours until the insomnia gets tired of running and I finally can catch some sleep.

Over the years I've tried various different things. I've tried lavender bubble baths and essential oils. I've tried noise machines and cooling pillowcases. I've tried meditation and counting sheep. I've tried classical music and yoga and fiber. And they all work — but once I get used to something working, it becomes less effective. My brain likes to challenge my sleep routines. My insomnia knows how to outsmart any tactic I throw its way. Because of this, I constantly have to change it up for myself. If your insomnia is as smart as mine, these are a few pre-bed rituals to mix and match:

Exercise Time

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Change up the time of day you exercise. While many people say that exercising before bed can wake you up, it can also potentially knock you out. It totally depends on your body and energy reserve so about two hours before bed, try to fit in some cardio and strength training.

Screen Time

Some people fall asleep with the help of the TV turned on low. Other people can't sleep if they've even seen a screen in the last two hours. Experiment with low volume screen time and zero screen time.

Bedtime Wine

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For some, a glass of red wine before bed is relaxing. It can be calming and help you sleep into a peaceful sleep. For others, alcohol disrupts the system and keeps you awake and anxious. Once you figure out what kind of effect that it has on you, make a mental note going forward if you're tempted to imbibe on a second drink that you know will cost you some snoozing later.

Reading

If you read a book that's too interesting, you stimulate your brain. If you read a book that's marginally boring, you start to snooze. Play around with different genres and interests and figure out what shuts the mind down and what ramps it up. "Interesting" is totally subjective.

Midnight Snack

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If you're hungry, your blood sugar will spike and make you jittery and awake. If you're too full, your body will try to keep you awake while it processes the food. Experiment with small snacks that are low in sugar, like almonds or whole wheat toast. Some people prefer to stop eating two hours before they go to bed. Other's like to have a bite 30 minutes before bed.

Get Up Early

Sometimes your nighttime routine starts in the morning. If you sleep in, chances are you'll have a harder time falling asleep at an early hour. But the science isn't always black and white. Sometimes, it can be hard to go to sleep when you haven't had enough of it. Experiment with waking up an hour early and an hour late.

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