Have you ever experienced an endless night of tossing and turning, or counting the specks on your bedroom ceiling? Well, you are certainly not alone. Sleep disorders and insomnia are more common than you think, and the best part is that there are some very simple and easy changes you can make to your daily and nightly routines to improve your Zzz’s!
Let’s talk a little bit about sleep hygiene:
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day (even on the weekends… I know).
- Avoid looking at screens at least 1 hour before bedtime, and definitely do not take the phone into bed with you!
- If you must have the lights on, or need to get work done on the computer, at least try to get a screen filter (or even those fun amber glasses) that filter the blue light out of the light spectrum.
- Get blackout shades for your bedroom. They are truly amazing!
- Unplug all devices not in use in your bedroom, and if you can’t unplug everything, put a piece of black electrical tape over any tiny lights that are on your electronics (e.g. Apple TV, Fire TV, Playstation, etc.).
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex – no reading, emailing, facebooking, tweeting, or texting allowed!
- Keep a small container of mixed nuts with raisins (or a nut bar) and a bottle of water by your bedside.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, oftentimes it is because your blood sugar levels have dropped. What ends up happening is that your cortisol levels start to rise to tell your body that you need glucose, and we all know what cortisol does – wakes us up and stresses us out! So if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, and staying awake trying your hardest not to look at the time on the alarm clock, grab a handful of nuts and raisins, and wash it down with some water. This will help your blood glucose to normalize before the cortisol gets too high and keeps you up until 6 am, just to have your alarm go off 30 minutes later…we’ve all been there!
- Speaking of alarm clocks, ditch your digital one! Especially if it is bright! It’s better to get a small analog alarm clock that doesn’t give off any light.
- Try using earplugs, especially if you live on a busy street, have pets that whine or scratch things in the middle of the night, live in an apartment with noisy neighbors, or sleep with an especially loud snorer.
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 2-3 pm; however, if you’re particularly sensitive to it, cut yourself off by noon at the latest. If you find that staying alert is especially difficult by the mid-afternoon slump, try drinking green tea instead. Although it has caffeine, it also has theanine, which is incredibly relaxing to your body and mind. Green tea also has catechins, which have the added benefit of being potent antioxidants, as well!
- Avoid drinking any fluids ~ 3 hours before bedtime so that your bladder doesn’t wake you in the middle of the night.
- Unwind at the end of the day by taking a relaxing bath and having a warm cup of chamomile or lemon balm tea. Just make sure to keep the bath water at a tepid temperature; taking a bath that is too hot can actually be stimulating to the nervous system.
- If you don’t have time to take a bath, try doing contrast foot soaks instead. You will be amazed at how relaxed you feel after doing a few rounds: 3 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold, repeat 3 times!