Exhausted, you went to bed at 10 pm and fell promptly asleep. Then for no reason that you know of, you are wakened at 2 am. You lay, wide awake, waiting for sleep to come. The clock ticks incessantly. You start to get stressed that you can’t get back to sleep and then stress you won’t be able to wake up in the morning! Thoughts go round and round in your head.
Does this sound all too familiar? How long has it been since you had a good, deep sleep and slept through the night? If you can’t recall, you’re not alone. About one-third of the adult population in the world experience insomnia, a common sleeping disorder. Even though there are no guaranteed cures for sleeplessness, there is much that can be done to improve the quality of your sleep comfort and opportunity for sleeping through the night soundly. These tips will help promote good sleep hygiene.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine by going to bed at the same time every night (or reasonably close), and getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends. This is one of the most important factors in sleep disorder treatment!
- Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Don’t use it to do work or watch TV.
- Take a warm bath before bedtime. Try a few drops of relaxing lavender oil in the water.
- Give yourself some time – up to an hour – in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom. Ideally, you would shut off all media and engage in some relaxing activity such as reading for the last half hour before bed.
- Darken your bedroom so it is as dark as possible. Use room darkening shades, block clock screens and television sources emitting light. Harvard Health Publications reports that light at night, especially blue light from electronic sources, may throw our biological clock out of sync.
- Make your room and bed comfortable! Invest in a bed that fits you (and your spouse). Buy good pillows that support your neck, head, etc. One thing we did to improve our sleep was to secure our cats in the basement so they weren’t coming in the bedroom. They tended to be active at night and I found that just doing this improved my sleep dramatically.
- You’ve heard of white noise; instead try “pink noise” to block out surrounding noises. The term pink noise refers to a constant, consistent noise like the sound of falling rain or leaves rustling. Check out Dr. Oz’s soundbyte here to get a better idea.
- If you can’t fall asleep within a half hour of going to bed, get up and read or do something calming until you feel sleepy. Tossing and turning in bed can make you start replaying the days’ events over and over, creating stress.
- Limit alcohol. Even though alcohol is a depressant, it often will interfere with sleep. Usually it will help you fall asleep but once it is metabolized, alcohol will often cause you to wake up earlier than normal.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine, especially in the evening. If caffeine is a problem for you but you can’t give it up, try the supplement Rutaesomn. Rutaesomn helps to metabolize caffeine so it can be eliminated from the body faster.
- Avoid large meals drinking large amounts of fluids late in the evening. As Melaina Juntti writes in her article, large meals at night, especially those with meat, may cause “meatmares” and sleep disturbances.
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. Studies have shown that people who are physically active with aerobic activity sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime. Be sure not to engage in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as that can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before ten in the morning or after three in the afternoon or, use sunscreen.
- Reduce your stress! Easier said than done, I know! Stress increases cortisol levels which will interfere with a deep, sound sleep. Try calming, relaxation techniques regularly like breathing exercises, meditation and yoga for stress reduction. Let go of the little things that stress you out.
- Don’t obsess about not sleeping. Studies have shown that individuals who worry about falling asleep have greater problems falling asleep. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening and there are insomnia remedies.
- Consider melatonin to help reset your internal clock. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the body that influences your sleep cycle and is a potent antioxidant. These best-selling melatonin supplements are relatively inexpensive and work well for many!
- Take your bone health supplement up to a half hour before bedtime – especially if it contains magnesium. Magnesium is calming and relaxing. That little bit of extra support can make the difference. This also makes it easy to get your second dose of calcium/magnesium in without fear of food interference. I may be prejudiced, but I do think this helps me!
- If you wake up, you might find you need a little help turning off the brain. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. There are also other herbal remedies for sleep to help shut down thoughts, reduce stress and calm the mind in general. Not sure if herbal remedies work – read this post on different natural sleep aids.
When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you feel the negative effects right away & possibly all day:
- Performance at school, at work, in meetings, or with regular daily activities can be a struggle
- Focus, concentration, or making decisions can take more effort
- Feeling clumsy or off balance
- Experience more moodiness, depression or irritability
- Falling asleep during the day or having a difficult time staying awake
- Long-term effects include contributing to chronic disease and a shortened life span
Put into practice some, or all of these tips to help you sleep through the night because good sleep is essential for your good health and well-being. Just like rain for plants to grow and oxygen for all living things to breathe, sleep is vital to your health. It restores your body and mind, boosts your immune system, helps you deal with daily stresses, promotes muscle repair and gives you the mental, emotional, and physical energy, and the alertness you need to get through your day.
Work on your sleep hygiene tonight and hopefully you will experience a deeper, more restful sleep. Sweet dreams!