There’s a lot we don’t know about insomnia, especially when it’s stress-related. The world has never seemed so unpredictable, and we’re collectively finding more to worry about—and worrying that we don’t even know what to worry about. Sleeplessness makes it worse, so the cycle can turn into a spiral. Intensive therapy won’t help much in the next 12 hours, but we can recommend some proactive ways you can improve your sleep tonight.
Get in Position
Tossing, turning, twitching…They don’t improve sleep, but experts say some sleep positions are better than others. They recommend sleeping on your side, specifically your left. It can reduce snoring, help you digest, and reduce heartburn. If you put a pillow between your knees, it will align your spine better for less back pain.
Find More Support
Throwing money at a problem won’t fix it, but odds are that you probably do need a new mattress. You should be able to count on getting 10 years out of one, but if it’s not up to par, it could be exacerbating your insomnia. If you’re sleeping on worn-out springs, you could develop pressure points with increased pain. Dust mites may be multiplying in your mattress, triggering sensitivities and allergies. Trying a new firmness level could make a positive difference.
Adjust the Temperature
The weather can change quickly outside, and your internal temperature varies for all kinds of reasons. You can go to bed freezing, start to drift off, only to wake up with night sweats. Research suggests that setting your thermostat between 60 and 68 degrees is optimal for sleep. If it’s a problem, try cracking a window, or you can also find regulating mattress covers, pads, and systems that can help.
Hear the Difference
You may have already tried noise machines and concluded the sounds of the jungle give you nightmares. But more studies suggest sounds with different frequencies, vibrations, and energies can make you drowsy, and you might just not have come across the right one yet. A free app can help you decide if you’re relaxed by the steady humming of white noise (radio static), rumbling pink noise (waves crashing), lower frequency brown noise (Niagara Falls), or black noise (near silence, similar to noise-canceling headphones).
Good vibrations are one of the best proactive ways you can improve your sleep tonight, because you have creative control over the sounds you try. You might even respond to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)—you know, all those YouTube videos of people whispering and creating soothing sounds up close to their microphones. While you’re settling in bed, switch to different sounds every 15 minutes. You won’t know you’ve got a winner, because by then you’ll already be asleep.