Every once and a while we all struggle with your same old looking at the clock and counting how many hours you have left until the alarm goes off.
Like some, you may even over use the snooze, myself included. However, suffering from insomnia is not as fun as knowing “It will be better tomorrow night.” Downsides to not getting enough rest include impaired judgement and decision making, slower reactions, lower work performance, immune system difficulties, higher anxiety, higher risk of developing depression, and overall a lower satisfaction with life. For those of you who suffer from endless sleep disturbance and want to get back on track but don’t know how, I hope the following is helpful:
Setting your biological clock is one of the best ways you can get on a regular sleep schedule. For this same reason this is why pediatricians have been burning these sleeping habits in parents heads about regular bed times for kiddos. When you’re on a regular sleeping schedule your body has been conditioned to go to sleep at the same time making it that much easier to drift off without struggle.
Believe it or not lighting can have something to do with it too.
Setting a dimmer or turning off most of the lights 2 hours before bed can help your body adjust to what is about to happen, which is bed time. With that being said, turning your clock away from you or turning down the light on your clock can help too.
Live in a busy area? Random motorcycles, ambulances, or neighbors making noise and jolting you awake? Having white noise in the background can help drowned out the noises around you and help you sleep better with less disturbance.
If you are as OCD as me with organization then you already have a to-do list but place it (or start making one and place it) by your bedside so when you can’t stop adding to it in your head at night you can write it down and promise yourself you can worry about it in the AM. Just that little bit can help you fall asleep faster because you are no longer constantly trying to NOT forget this one little but very important task that needs to be take care of tomorrow.
Doing something relaxing like stretching or meditating before bed is a great way of loosening up and preparing your body to slow down.
More and more we find ourselves getting caught up in social media or online surfing right before bed. This 2 second glimpse at your phone or IPad can lead to 2 more hours or surfing the web. You know you’ve done it. So have I. But try to stick to putting those gadgets away 2 hours prior to bed and don’t look at them again until morning. They will still be there in the morning I promise.
If you use some of these recommendations periodically, results will vary. Using them all together, better results. Using them all and nightly, best results. Unfortunately, we tend to think that all of these wonderful ideas will ensure my better night’s sleep all by itself. However, there are other factors to take into consideration though because sleep health is not just a nighttime thing. Our lifestyle choices impact out sleep tremendously.
Comfort is not always the issue but sometime it really really is. Have you heard the commercial about the mattress being more than 8 years and it’s time to replace it. Besides, sweat, dead skin, and dust mites accumulating in your mattress you’ve been wearing down that comfy pillow-top for years. Your body will thank you for a new one. Same goes for the pillows. Test your pillow by folding it in half and squeezing the air out of it. When you let it go, if it upfolds its good, if it stays folded, time to invest. Get a new one.
Beverages: Limit your caffeine intake to mornings and only one cup.
Yes, I said one cup. You won’t need so much after you start sleeping better. Though water-intake is a great practice, right before bed is not the best idea. It wakes you in the middle of the night, disrupting your sleep cycle and it’s not like you can just ignore it. Limit water consumption 1 hour before bed. Drinking alcohol also wakes you mid-sleep cycle. It can have a short term drowsy effect but when that wears off you’ll wake back up.
Last note: Stress is a silent killer.
It causes so many medical problems it should be considered a disease. Balancing some hormones should help though. Unfortunately, the more stressed you are the more Cortisol you have in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released when we are in fight or flight. The problem is the more stressed I am the more Cortisol have, the less calm I feel. Similarly to conditioning our bodies to having a bed time routine we condition our bodies to constantly be in distress. This cycle can be changed over time, so lets start now. Exercising relieves stress and increases the body’s Serotonin which is a neutrotransmitter that aids in sleeping, eating, and digestion. It is also known to help with anxiety and depression by effecting our moods. Spending time outdoors and getting a little sunlight during the day allows your body to create Melatonin. This hormone helps us sleep! Yay!
For more information sleepeducation.org is useful as well as Tapping in: By Laurel Parnell who offers many self soothing resources to help decrease stress which are very beneficial when trying to fall asleep. See the ‘Start Feeling Better Now‘ page of my website.