To get the good night’s rest we need, psychologist and sleep expert Michael Grandner says we need to sleep-train our brains.
Here are the top three ways to train your brain to fall asleep, according to Grandner.
- Make a schedule, and stick to it - If your bedtime and wake time change from day to day, it throws off the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates when you get sleepy and when you wake up. Grandner points out that the brain likes regularity and predictability, so having a standard time to go to bed and wake up, even on the weekends, can help your sleep rhythms get back in sync.
- Don't lay in bed awake - This expert says this is a “golden rule” in sleep medicine, backed by “decades of data.” “The best sleep tip you can ever give somebody is get up - don't lay in bed awake but not sleeping," Grandner explains. But why is it so important? He says lying in bed awake can form an association in your brain that can lead to chronic insomnia. So instead of tossing and turning, get up and reset anywhere other than your bed.
- Change your attitude about sleep - A lot of us think about sleeping as the last thing we have to do in a long day, after work, housework and binge-watching shows. But Grander says that needs to change. “Don't see your sleep as the amount of time you have left in your day,” he advises. “See your sleep as the amount of time you need in order to set yourself up for a productive tomorrow.” He says this small shift in thinking can help us prioritize bedtime to get the sleep we need, whether we’re “done” with our day or not.