I’m not going to bother you with a long list of all of the detrimental effects of not sleeping because you probably know all that already. You see, I’m guessing that you’re here because you don’t sleep very well and you don’t need me to tell you that it sucks.
Let me guess…. Does this sound remotely familiar?
Your eyes pop open in the middle of the night and despite every “sleep trick” your friends and family have told you….NOTHING works to make you fall back to sleep.
You spend the long, tedious hours tossing and turning, your mind racing with the most ridiculous pointless thoughts.
You finally fall into a deep, drool inducing sleep only to be woken up 15 minutes later to your blaring alarm telling you it’s time to start your day.
You spend the rest of your day in a ½ zombie, ½ delirious state of sleep deprivation.
Nighttime comes and you wash, rinse, repeat.
No, I’m not a psychic, I’ve just been there before ……. and it really, really sucks.
But thankfully, I’ve learned (through many, many, many trials and errors) ways to cope with your body’s nightly sleep betrayal. And I want to share it with you.
1 – SLEEP IN A COOL, DARK ROOM
At night, your body temperature naturally drops, signaling that it’s time to slow down and get some rest. But what happens if your body tends to run a bit too warm? Studies show that people who struggle with sleep tend to have a warmer core body temperature. By keeping your bedroom nice and cool, you’re telling your body that it’s time to wind down.
The ideal room temperature is between 60-68 degrees. At this temperature, your body naturally stimulates the production of melatonin, a hormone that encourages sleep. Melatonin is also a super powerful anti-aging hormone, which gives brand new meaning to the saying “get your beauty sleep”.
Any light you are exposed to during bedtime hours will halt your body’s melatonin production. Studies show that exposure to room light during sleep hours can suppress melatonin levels by more than 50%. That’s significant!
Protect the quality of your sleep by dropping your room temperature with fans and air conditioning. You can also invest in cooling sheets and blankets and try blackout curtains to block out light.
2 – HAVE A CONSISTENT BEDTIME
Routine is everything when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Here’s why: going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, helps you take control of your body’s internal clock. Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time—and stick to it – even on the weekends. Sometimes life happens and your sleep schedule may get thrown off. If it does, try not to worry about it and get back to your schedule the next night.
3 – WRITE A TO-DO LIST FOR THE NEXT DAY
Taking a moment to “off load” your responsibilities before bed can make it easier to fall asleep according to new research. The simple act of writing a to-do list for the next day can help alleviate “bedtime worry” which helps free your mind for sound sleep.
In order to do this, take 5 minutes before bed and list all that you need to accomplish the following day and then tuck in for the night. Participants in a recent study fell asleep 9 minutes faster when they did this.
4 – UNPLUG AT LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME
Smartphones, tablets, and computers may be the #1 reason you’re up all night.Technology keeps our brains stimulated at night, which can not only keep you from falling asleep but also can disrupt it all night long.
Before the technology revolution, we basically had two lights to live by – the sun and the moon. These natural lights helped us to see during the day, and lull us to sleep at night which created natural patterns that we still live by, waking with the sun and falling asleep with the moon.
However, the advent of artificial lighting can cause our natural patterns to get confused. This leads to poor sleep if we use artificial lighting too close to bedtime. Believe it or not, artificial light, called blue light, comes from smartphones and tablets and actually suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
A good rule of thumb is to simply turn off electronics at least an hour before bed. Try reading a book, meditating or journaling instead for a restful night’s sleep.
5 – DRINK HERBAL TEA
For years, herbal teas such as chamomile, have been used as a natural sleep inducer and mild tranquilizer. Studies are backing up the claims that chamomile can help you fall asleep and stay that way. The theory is that an antioxidant called apigenin which is found in abundance in chamomile tea may be what causes its calming effects. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.
But chamomile isn’t the only herb that can help you sleep better. Other herbs such as valerian root, lemon balm and passionflower are showing promise as natural remedies for insomnia. As always, check with your doctor before taking an herbal remedy to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your medications and health.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s so unbelievably frustrating when you have trouble falling and staying asleep and the effect on your mental and physical health can be devastating.
Using the 5 simple tricks above can not only help you fall asleep quickly, but also stay asleep throughout the night.
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