People who never have trouble sleeping usually do these 8 things every evening

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Canadian-American actress Kim Cattrall, most famous for her role as Samantha Jones on the HBO series, Sex and the City, has talked publicly about her battles with insomnia, which she has said was so bad that it affected her ability to work. 

Back in 2015, Cattrall had to pull out of a play she was scheduled to perform at London’s Royal Court Theatre. The reason was insomnia, it was reported in 2016 by the BBC

Cattrall has described her insomnia “like being pinned down by a three-ton gorilla.” 

She shared a diary entry with BBC Radio from her stay in London the year prior: “I think I’m losing the ability to think clearly. Words get harder to remember without sleep. I can’t grasp, hold on to ideas, thoughts, even tasks. They’re slipping away from me since I got here and can’t sleep.”

Cattrall continued: 

“Without sleep, there is no way to wash away the debris that collects throughout any given day, no way to clear and cleanse the thoughts that bracket morning through night.”

In our “don’t stop until you drop” culture, many people can relate to Cattrall. So much so that in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called insomnia a public health epidemic

But there are those rare individuals who never have trouble sleeping. Are they blessed? Are they the chosen ones?

Hardly. 

The difference is that they diligently do a number of things in the evenings that most of us most likely don’t do.

What are they? 

Here are eight things the “sleep easy’s” do every evening. 

1) They cut out the caffeine

If I have a cup of coffee past two or three o’clock in the afternoon, that’s pretty much a guarantee that I’m not going to sleep much, if at all, that night.

“On average, most people should stop drinking caffeine four to six hours before bed,” says Brandon Peters, MD. “People who are especially sensitive to this stimulant may want to stop earlier in the day or avoid caffeine altogether.”

Peters says that figuring out how long before bed you should stop drinking caffeine (which includes coffee, black tea, cola…) can take some trial and error. 

“If, for example, you moved your last cup of coffee up to 4 p.m., but you are still having restless nights, you may need to push that up even more (or switch to decaffeinated).”

It’s wise to cut all forms of caffeine out even eight hours before bed. Hot drinks in the evening can certainly be soothing: there are a myriad of herbal teas such as chamomile and milk thistle that are very therapeutic before bed. 

2) They start winding down at about eight o’clock

There is no shortage of things to do—even during the evenings when many of us should be resting after a long day’s work. But we shouldn’t be going from being busy with chores right to our bedtime routine. 

There needs to be a wind-down period that lets your body transition from business to relaxation to rest and sleep. 

“Ideally your wind-down period should be 1-2 hours before you plan to fall asleep (your planned sleep time should take into account your unique sleep need),” says Jeff Kahn from RiseScience.

“Your wind-down time will include your wind-down routine activities and your bedtime. Make sure your bedtime is not the same time you plan to fall asleep.” 

Kahn says that since your sleep efficiency is likely less than 100%, you’ll need at least a 30-minute buffer between your bedtime and your sleep time to account for the time it takes to fall asleep.”

3) They block the blue light

You got it: this means smartphones, laptops, I-pads—and the television set. 

Exposure to light during the day is great to keep us awake and alert, but at night, this very same light exposure has the opposite effect, says Rudy Mawer, MSc.

“This is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm [which tricks] your brain into thinking it’s still daytime,” he says. “This reduces hormones like melatonin which helps you relax and get deep sleep.”

Mawer says the blue light, which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit a lot of, is the worst for this. 

Because blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime, Mawer recommends that we refrain from watching TV two hours before bed. This includes turning off any bright lights and putting the cell phone away. 

4) They have a self-care ritual that they prioritize 

For me, it’s a skincare routine. It helps me unwind and feel fresh for bed. It’s non-negotiable and it makes me feel good. 

Some people also like to journal before bed as way to purge out any emotions of the day. 

Part of self-care is setting a bedtime and honoring it. Especially during work nights it’s important to be consistent.

At the end of the day, a successful bedtime routine involves giving yourself enough time to relax and get some deep, restorative sleep, says the team at Yoga Sleep

“Try setting an alarm to signal that it’s time to start your nightly self-care routine. It’s important to give yourself a decent amount of time to wind down—your routine should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, or longer if possible.”

5) They luxuriate in a soothing hot bath 

There’s nothing like taking a long—or even short—hot bath. 

It’s therapeutic in more ways than one.

That’s because at night, our body temperatures naturally drop, which signals the production of melatonin—also known as the “sleeping hormone.”

“Soaking in a warm bath will raise your body temperature, and editing will more rapidly cool it down, thus instigating the production of melatonin, and better preparing you for sleep.”

6) They might take a melatonin supplement 

A melatonin supplement has become an increasingly popular sleep aid in the past decade as a sleep aid.

Our bodies produce melatonin naturally, says the team at John Hopkins Medicine

“It doesn’t make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep,” says John Hopkins sleep expert, Luis F. Buenavee, PhD, C.B.S.M

“Most people’s bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own. However, there are steps you can take to make the most of your natural melatonin production, or you can try a supplement on a short-term basis if you’re experiencing insomnia, want to overcome jet lag, or are a night owl who needs to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier, such as for work or school.”

Of course, if you’re considering taking melatonin, then it’s imperative to consult with your family doctor to see if the supplement is right for you.

7) They meditate or do something else that is mindful 

High blood pressure, anxiety, and stress are usually prime factors behind persistent insomnia. 

“Deep breathing that involves not just our chest, but our belly (also called diaphragmatic breathing) has been shown to be effective in lowering our heartbeat and stabilizing our blood pressure. All of which improve our sleep quality,” says Sabrina from Budding Optimist

We talked about how journaling can be a therapeutic exercise before bed. But so can meditating, reading, and listening to soothing music. 

It’ll take a bit of trying to figure out which mindful activity is best suited to you. 

Personally, I love to either read or listen to some mellow music. It puts me in a tranquil and positive mood as I fall asleep and it’s a great way to end the day. 

8) They rely on white noise 

Although most people prefer absolute quiet in order to fall and stay asleep, some people rely on “white noise”  or some type of ambient sound to mask disruptive noises such as street traffic, says the team at HeadSpace

“Studies have found that listening to white noise helped newborn babies fall asleep faster and also affected the amount of time adults spent in different sleep stages when played throughout the night,” according to Jay Summer and Dr. Anis Rehman from Sleep Foundation

They say another study found that adults actually fell asleep 38% faster when listening to white noise. 

Other recent studies indicate that people living in high-noise cities such as New York fell asleep faster and spent more of their time in bed asleep when listening to white noise. 

“In another study, listening to white noise through headphones improved sleep quality for critically ill patients in a loud hospital bed,” they say. 

I find that the rhythmic whirring sound of a fan can tune out any outside noise and help me fall asleep. 

There are also many apps and effective sleep casts that can also help. 

Last words

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best investments you can make for your well-being.

Setting the stage for good quality sleep is an investment that we can make in ourselves and it’s something we should take seriously. 

“The most beautiful thing about sleep is that you are in the driver’s seat—there’s no outsourcing,” says the team at Beacon Pointe

“No one can sleep for you except yourself.”

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