You know those kind of nights—you can’t wait to jump under the covers, close your eyes, and relax after a long, busy day. The only problem? You can’t seem to get any dang sleep. You’re stuck tossing and turning, your mind is racing, and you just can’t seem to get sleepy enough to doze off. And, it’s beyond frustrating.
Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help you become fatigued fast, in just a mere ten minutes. Whether you look to these hacks when in bed and struggling or incorporate them into your nighttime routine minutes before hitting the hay, you’re bound to find some solace and snooze sooner and easier.
Put Down Your Phone
“We know blue light hinders our sleep, and a recent study showed preliminary findings that blue light exposure increased sugar consumption in rats,” says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD. “Give yourself enough of a breather without the phone 30 minutes to an hour before bed to feel sleepier,” she says.
To make it easier to let go, stash your phone in a different room or plug it in far away from your bed, turned over, to prevent any light from waking you up as you try and zone out.
Eat Foods With Complex Carbs
You know what those are: think oatmeal, bran, or whole-grain toast. “These complex carbs help to boost tryptophan and serotonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain involved in sleep,” she says.
When you have these two neurotransmitters, you’ll become sleepier faster, and complex carbs also have fiber and good nutrients to fill you up throughout the night, too. Try whole-grain toast with a little nut butter or make a plain, low-sugar oatmeal (you can add some fruit for sweetness, but avoid sugary, processed junk).
Have a Banana
Go bananas—literally! “Add banana slices to your whole-grain toast for an extra does of sleep promoting chemicals in the brain. Bananas contain high levels of magnesium and tryptophan, both great to help you get the ZZZ's,” she says. Plus, you can even add some sweetness with dark chocolate, which is also rich in magnesium, she says. So, that nighttime chocolate fix can actually be sleep-promoting, too! Just stick to a square max—you don’t want to become stimulated from caffeine.
Sip on Warm Tea
Not only is warm tea calming and nourishing, but this soothing beverage will also help you kick-start your bedtime routine by relaxing the body, says Michalczyk. “Chamomile, ginger, and peppermint are calming and all caffeine-free,” she says. Yet avoid black tea and green tea, which do have caffeine and can have an opposite effect.
Have Some Almonds
A handful of almonds can go a long way in making you sleepier (just make sure to stick to one serving so you don't overwhelm your body with too much fat and calories before bed.) “Munch on almonds before bed to help promote a good night’s rest. Almonds contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle,” she explains.
“Start a nighttime meditation practice. Doing this has tremendously helped with my sleep,” says Michalczyk. It’s best to try and make it a routine, where you do it each night before bed and become accustomed to the schedule. “Taking 10-15 minutes with one of the meditation app (like calm or insight timer) to close my eyes and focus on breathing, instantly makes me sleepier and kicks off my bedtime routine for sound sleep,” she says.
Make Your Room Cool and Dark
Hot temperatures and light will keep you up. “Your first step should be to lie down in a room that is both cool and as dark as possible,” says Bill Tuck, a certified sleep science coach. That means, if you can’t fall asleep, make sure the curtains are totally covering the windows and that any lights, like phone lights or alarm clock lights, are out of sight or covered with a towel. And lower the thermostat—you might be overheated without realizing it.
Play Mind Games
Don’t get on your phone to play Scrabble, but do some mind games in your head that can make you feel sleepier, rather than stimulated. “A good next step is to play games in your mind to take your energy away from the fact that you feel wide awake,” says Tuck.
“Try something like starting at your toes and slowly flexing and releasing every muscle group in your body one by one until you get all the way up to your head. As you flex, breathe in for the count of three, as you relax breathe out for the count of five,” he says. Concentrating on this behavior will help make you sleepy.
“Another tactic is to do something enjoyable with your mind. I prefer to play golf holes in my brain when I want to feel tired. Going through the course shot by shot thinking through where the ball will go, etc. I’m very rarely able to make it to hole #4,” he says. Happy thoughts take the mind away from focusing on trying to become tired and it just relaxes you. Just don’t make the happy thought something too action-packed, though, as this can backfire.