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    9 Nice Things To Think About When You're Struggling To Fall Asleep

    No offense to sheep, of course.

    I struggle to fall asleep on more nights than not.

    Will Varner / BuzzFeed

    A veritable smorgasbord of things keep me awake, but anxious thoughts are the biggest culprit. I've tried a lot of techniques to ease this nighttime stress, and a big one that works for me is focusing my mind on something, anything, that isn't my anxiety-inducing thought spiral. Counting sheep is fun and all, but what works even better is concentrating on things that make me feel grateful and content, which helps me drift off to a a perfectly dreamy sleep a lot faster. Here are some of my favorite topics:

    1. Imagine yourself taking the route to a place you love.

    Paramount Pictures / Via

    This one is all visual, which is a great way to shut out any negative words floating around in your mind. To start, think of a place that you have only good associations with: Your best friend's house, your partner's bed, a movie theater, a pretty spot in a park, the possibilities are endless. Then, go through all of the motions it takes to get there, and really zero in on the minute details, like tying your shoes or sitting in traffic. And if you get to your destination before you fall asleep, don't sweat it! You can pick a new one or just space out. Getting too focused on falling asleep can distract from what really matters in any of this, which is getting in a relaxed, loose state of mind.

    2. Make a mental list of all of the things you like about yourself.

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    Like a lot of people, I can be really hard on myself, and bedtime has always been this bad trait's witching hour. Instead of laying there, going over all of the things I feel like I messed up that day, I try reminding myself of my good characteristics. If you're stuck, a The Help-style "You is kind, you is smart, you is important" is a perfect start for this, and then you can build from there. Not only is it a really great mental spot to settle into as you fall asleep, but it also reinforces positive thought patterns during the day.

    3. Run through all of the things you're grateful for.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Aka, another way of counting your blessings every night, but it really works! Everyone takes things like their family, their friends, or their health for granted at some point, but closing your eyes each night and thinking about why you're so grateful for those things โ€” and even more minor things, like your favorite shoes or your gym โ€” is guaranteed to put a silly, sleepy smile on your face. And trust me, you'll fall asleep long before you reach the end of that list.

    4. Or go through all of the things that made you happy that day.

    Christina Lu / BuzzFeed

    Sometimes, even remembering a nice smile someone gave me or a dog I saw on the way into work is enough to get all of the pleasant thoughts flowing.

    5. Picture everything that goes into doing something you're really good at.

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    My coworker Tom suggested doing this, and I immediately tried it out. The thinking is that if you have, let's say, a killer tennis swing, you should go through every step of how you do it, from picking up the racket to your follow-through. I'm pretty good at doing puzzles, so I imagined myself going through the process of turning over the pieces and putting them together, and before I knew it, I was drifting off to sleep.

    6. Or think of a category or topic that you know well, and try to remember everything in it.

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    Many years of poring through atlases and taking Sporcle quizzes mean that I'm an amateur geography buff. When I feel like thinking about something a little less personal at night, I just try to visualize and name every country I can think of. If that's not your thing, you can also try naming best picture Oscar winners, all of the U.S. states, nail polish colors, or all of your grade school teachers.

    7. Replay your favorite day of vacation.

    Leslie Schneider / Via Instagram: @splendid_rags

    Maybe you're laying on the beach, cocktail in hand, surrounded by friends, reading your favorite book. Maybe you're curled up on your couch with the fireplace roaring with the snow falling outside as your favorite candle burns. Maybe you're navigating the winding streets of Lisbon with the love of your life. Whatever your ideal vacation day was, I bet you're feeling nice and chill just thinking about it right now.

    8. Plan your perfect day as close to the minute as you can.

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    Look, I know this seems overwhelming and stressful, but as with all of these, the goal is to focus on constructive things in a sequence. So with this, envision small moments, like picking a pretty mug for a yummy cup of coffee or tea, calling up a long-distance friend you miss like hell, going to dinner at a special-occasion restaurant, and things like that. The day doesn't have to make sense to be perfect, as long as it sounds enjoyable to you.

    9. And when all else fails, pretend you're surrounded by a lot of puppies*.

    Any animal will do, as long as it makes you feel like Oprah carrying a basket of freshly-harvested vegetables.

    *this is about wish-fulfillment, so things like pee and poop and allergies and needly puppy teeth don't exist, ok?

    What do you think about when you want to fall asleep? Share in the comments!

    By the way, if you've been having trouble sleeping and it's not going away, it's definitely worth checking with your doctor. Many things can cause insomnia, from stress to certain disorders, and your doctor will best be able to help you figure out what's going on so you can get the sleep you need. In the meantime, you can always read more about insomnia here.