Tips and Tricks to Sleep Better
Do you find yourself rolling around at night, unable to fall asleep? Or do you get your eight hours of sleep but still feel tired when you wake up? It’s not just the quantity, but also the quality of sleep that counts. By making a few changes to your daily routine and habits, you can increase your quality of sleep and successfully treat restlessness and insomnia.
- One of the most important things is to go to bed early. Simply put: every hour of sleep before midnight counts as two. In the meridian system of Chinese medicine, the energy of the Liver and Gallbladder is the strongest between 11 pm and 3 am. These are the organs that bear the brunt of modern-day life full of stress and toxicity. For these organs to regenerate and heal from all the stress of modern day life, it’s best to be already in a deep sleep by the time 11 pm rolls around.
- Stop using screens like computers, tablets, and TV’s several hours before you want to go to sleep. The light of these devices is a spectrum very similar to daylight and it sends the message to our brain that it’s daytime, when in fact it’s not.
- Regular physical activity helps us to sleep deeper and fall asleep quicker. Exercise during the day – the earlier, the better. When you exercise too late, your body struggles to slow down, and you may find yourself lying awake for hours.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that keeps us awake – ask any coffee-oholic what they drink to keep going during the day. Even consuming caffeine in the morning can affect our sleep cycle. I wrote a blog a while ago about the effects coffee and caffeine have on our health and included some alternative options to try out. If you can’t get yourself to give up coffee, try to have your last cup a minimum of six to eight hours before bedtime. Alcohol, while it can make us sleepy in the short term, can make our sleep restless, and significantly reduces the overall quality of sleep. Have you ever had too much to drink and woke up at 5am not able to sleep? Even smaller amounts make our sleep less restful.
- Get outside, feel the sun, and breathe fresh air as much as possible. Eat your breakfast and lunch outside when possible, and do your daily exercise outside. Sunlight provides much needed Vitamin D which is crucial for good sleep. For more about that click here.
- Begin to wind down earlier at night and go to bed even if you don’t feel tired. Try relaxing activities an hour or two before bedtime, such as reading a book, doing relaxation exercises, breathing deeply, listen to soft music, and having relaxing conversations with your family.
- Don’t read or watch suspenseful or scary books and movies before bed. You’ll find yourself reliving the scene and trying to figure out the mystery when you should already be asleep.
- Eat an early dinner – ideally a lighter vegetarian meal and a smaller portion. Have it several hours before bedtime. This allows the digestion to rest overnight which will leave you feeling rested and refreshed in the morning. Avoid spicy food and remember that chocolate contains caffeine and is very stimulating, especially at night!
- Take a hot bath early in the evening to relax and prepare yourself for bed. The warm water lets your body temperature rise, and when you get out, the rapid cool-down relaxes you and signals your body that it’s time to rest. A study at Cornell Medical Center concluded that this drop in body temperature facilitates entry into the deeper stages of sleep.
- A regular sleep routine will help you sleep better. A routine will tell your body when it’s time to wind down and get ready to sleep, and similarly when to wake up. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Keep to your schedule even over weekends; otherwise, you’ll be left with a Monday morning hangover.
- Keep an eye on your stress. Stress is terrible for our sleep. When we are stressed out, our body is feeling a low-grade sense of danger. Our instincts tell us that when we are in danger, it’s not safe to sleep. So make sure you are working on balancing stress in your life. My recent post on anxiety and depression has some good suggestions that are also great for generally combating stress.
- Sleep in a dark room. Get thick curtains that block out light from the outside. This also means no lights from charging devices or even LED’s from TV’s or computers that are powered off. These days it seems everything has a light or LED on it. Cover them up with a little piece of electrical tape. Even alarm clocks next to the bed often produce enough light to disturb sleep. Think about using an eye mask to block out external light. (I like the kind that block out all light even in daylight, like this one.) The darker the room, the better. Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, the hormone well known for regulating sleep. Melatonin is also thought to have a powerful healing effect on the body as well.
- Sleep in a quiet room. Use earplugs if you live in a noisy environment
- Quiet your mind after getting into bed by taking several deep breaths, and set an intention to get good, quality, restful, and undisturbed sleep.
Slowly incorporate these changes into your daily routine to see which work best for you. These tips definitely help me. Let me know what helps you sleep better. If you’re doing all these things and your sleep is still problematic, give me a call and let’s discuss your situation.