Falling asleep can be difficult sometimes. There is a point where not sleeping becomes insomnia, in which case, the best course of action is to see a doctor who can give you the best advice. But if you are not quite at that point, here are a few methods that I have employed to help myself fall asleep.
1. Do listen to study music
Ambient music is often labeled as something to help people focus. But it also helps to get a person’s mind off anything, including everything. If thoughts are consuming your mind before bed, listening to ambient binaural beats, nature sounds like raindrops or fire crackle and even bossa nova or café music may help you. Use headphones or earbuds if you must, but having it play over speakers in your room works best if you have your own room or if your roommate is alright with it, just because the feeling of something physically on or in your ears can bother you. Sounds like these can be found on YouTube or at myNoise.net.
1b. Don’t listen to upbeat music or music with lyrics
While a song may be stuck in your head, keeping you awake, listening to it will not help you fall asleep. I have personally stayed awake listening to music with lyrics until four in the morning in the past, especially since I listen to punk. If you think the lyrics are thought-provoking, that is not ideal for when you are trying to clear your mind. Avoid it.
2. Do watch a sitcom that you have seen before
Sometimes, the familiar can bore a person’s mind into falling asleep. If there is a show that has a predictable, routine plot and you have seen it enough times before to know what will happen, then letting it play while you lay in a comfortable spot may help you to drift off. Not to call these shows boring, but Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory are familiar enough for me and have rather routine plots, so I can turn my mind off when I watch them and drift off. Other shows that a lot of people are familiar enough with are Friends, Full House, Family Matters or Hannah Montana, but this applies to whatever show you think would work for you.
2b. Don’t start a series on Netflix
I’m telling you: you will be up for hours trying to finish it. They end episodes on cliffhangers. It is a dangerous game.
3. Do write down reminders before bed
It is difficult to clear your mind when you need to remember something. So, before you go to sleep, write it down somewhere you know you will see so you will not scare yourself at two in the morning, afraid that you will forget. You will overall be much calmer.
3b. Don’t tell yourself that you will finish an assignment that is due before you usually wake up
It is understandable to choose honoring your bedtime over finishing an assignment, as all-nighters are not great for your health. But, if something is due before you typically wake up and you intend to finish it in the morning, you will not likely be able to follow your alarm clock’s instructions on short notice. The worry of an incomplete assignment and the dread of having to wake up too early will keep you awake too long. Staying up an hour or so past your bedtime is alright, but if it gets any later, it is alright to email your professor and TA to ask for extra time or to just turn in what you have for peace of mind.
Good luck and goodnight!