How to Sleep In


If you've racked up a sleep debt or just want a deliciously late morning, the answer is a long, deep sleep. If you disrupt your sleep with the wrong evening activities or bedroom setup, you'll wake up less refreshed, and have a hard time falling back asleep for that extra hour of comfort.

Part 1
Encouraging Deep Sleep

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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It's much easier to sleep in a dark room. Close your blinds or curtains, and keep your door shut to block light from the rest of the house. You'll be sleeping during brighter hours than usual, so do what you can to make up for it. If your curtains are thin, try slinging a blanket over your curtain rod.

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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Ever go from tired to wide awake in ten minutes? This happens when your body moves to the next part of it sleep cycle. Typically, the cycle lasts about three hours. If you track the times you feel most tired, you can go to bed at that time to get better sleep. Set an alarm for a time when you usually feel awake, and there's a better chance that you'll avoid morning grogginess.

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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Most people sleep best in a cool room, kept at roughly 65ºF (18ºC).[1] Adjust the thermostat and bedclothes until you are comfortable. You should be warm enough to fall asleep comfortably, but not so warm that you sweat or kick off the blankets in the night. Try warmer or cooler pajamas, sleeping without pajamas, or using a hot water bottle. If you usually shower right before bed, try showering an hour in advance instead. This gives you time to cool down.

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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Noise can make it difficult to fall asleep, or lead to a restless night. Mask it by running a fan, or a radio set to static. Some people enjoy falling asleep to relaxing music.[2]

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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This will make you tired in the morning, but it's a risky strategy. If you have trouble sleeping in, there's the chance you'll get up anyway and end up with a nasty sleep debt.

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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Exposure to daylight earlier in the day can help keep your body synchronized with the day-night cycle.[3] Outdoor exercise may be particularly effective, so you don't go to bed full of excess energy. While some people can exercise right before bed, many people find it difficult to sleep until they've cooled down.

Encouraging Deep Sleep on How to Sleep In

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Sleeping pills will knock you out, but overuse can lead to addiction or an inability to sleep without them. Many sleeping medications lead to serious side effects or allergic reactions in some users.[4] Use these only for short-term problems. If you have serious trouble sleeping, visit a doctor and ask about more effective medication. Melatonin is a safer option, but not as powerful. It's usually most effective at fixing jet lag or another disrupted sleep schedule. It may not be your best bet for a one-time sleep-in. Most over the counter sleeping medications are antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or doxylamine, sometimes combined with painkillers or alcohol. Side effects such as next-day drowsiness or dizziness are common, and it's unclear whether these are even effective.[5] Prescription-strength drugs are usually benzodiazepines. These can lead to severe addiction and withdrawal symptoms, and will only work while you are taking them.[6] Most other prescription-strength drugs have not been around long enough to gather complete data on effectiveness or side effects. Talk to your doctor about zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien), and eszopiclone (Lunesta) and ask for recent information.[7]

Part 2
Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning

Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning on How to Sleep In

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If you wake up before you'd like, resist the urge to get up. Don't move at all, not even to open your eyes or scratch your nose. If you let the initial discomfort pass, you can usually drift back to sleep.

Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning on How to Sleep In

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While lying still, take deep breaths through your nose. Try the 4-7-8 pattern to relax yourself: Count to four slowly as you inhale through your nose. Hold as you count to seven. Exhale as you count to eight, through your mouth. Repeat until you fall asleep.

Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning on How to Sleep In

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Silently tell yourself that you'll fall back into restful slumber. If you are thinking about what you have to do, or worrying about your inability to sleep in, you'll be less relaxed and more likely to fail.

Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning on How to Sleep In

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If you've waited patiently but still can't fall back asleep, sit up and do something to relax. This is especially useful if you are feeling anxious about your inability to sleep. Read a relaxing book, listen to quiet music, or stand up and stretch. Return to bed within fifteen minutes.

Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning on How to Sleep In

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Some people suffer from temporary paralysis when they wake up, aware of their surroundings but unable to move. This is harmless, but often accompanied by terror or even hallucinations. Following the advice above for restful sleep reduces the odds of this happening. If you still have these experiences, take additional precautions: Sleep on your side, not your back. If you wake up on your back anyway, try sewing a sock on the back of your pajamas and filling it with a tennis ball. During a paralysis episode, try to move your fingers, toes, and tongue. Some people can even have an "out of body" experience by imagining themselves standing up. Whenever you have a nightmare or sleep paralysis episode, document it in a journal. This can give you the psychological distance you need to overcome your fear.

Part 3
Avoiding Sleep Disruption

Avoiding Sleep Disruption on How to Sleep In

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Blue light tricks your brain into thinking it's the afternoon, and screens are full of blue light. Avoid computers, television, and cell phones for at least an hour before you plan to fall asleep. This will lead to deeper, more restful sleep. As an alternative, try an turning on Night Shift (iOS), Night Light (Windows 10), or use an app like F.lux as they reduce the blue light emitted from your device's screen.

Avoiding Sleep Disruption on How to Sleep In

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Many people take alcohol to help them fall asleep, without realizing that it leads to restless sleep. Similarly, the relaxing effect of cigarettes doesn't outweigh the buzz of nicotine. Avoid both of these substances in the late evening, or you may find yourself awake before your alarm. Finally, as you probably know, caffeine from coffee, soda, or chocolate can make it much more difficult to sleep. Some people are extra-sensitive to caffeine, and may have trouble sleeping if they drink coffee or tea in the afternoon. Try skipping everything but your morning dose for a few days. Your sleep may improve.

Avoiding Sleep Disruption on How to Sleep In

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Eating large portions of rich foods can lead to restless sleep. Eat dinner at least two hours before you go to bed. If you get hungry in the late evening, eat a light snack and drink a glass of water or milk.

Avoiding Sleep Disruption on How to Sleep In

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If you have to get up in the morning to pee, you'll have a harder time sleeping in. Drink no more than a small glass of water to stay hydrated.