Do you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep? Adults need, on average, 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting this you may feel tired, brain-fogged, have difficulty concentrating, and/or require naps/caffeine throughout the day.
Here are some simple solutions to get a better night’s sleep starting tonight:
Stick to a regular schedule. This means try to go to bed every night around the same time and wake at the same time, even on the weekends and holidays. Our bodies crave routine, our biological functions run on an internal clock system, called a circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm gives our body cues about light and temperature; it helps regulate our sleep according to a day-night cycle. The circadian system requires consistency to function properly, which is why having a bedtime schedule is essential.
Darken your room 30 minutes prior to sleep. Use black-out curtains and turn out any artificial light sources at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. This automatically tells your body it is night and time to sleep.
Cut out any caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Caffeine, alcohol, and smoking can reduce the quality of your sleep or make sleep more difficult. Fluid intake prior to sleep may also lead to more frequent trips to the washroom during the night. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least 6 hours prior to sleep and stop drinking alcohol 3 hours prior to sleep. Quitting smoking is the best option for not only your health but can also significantly improve sleep.
Cut down on screen time. Turn off your computer, laptop, tablet, cellphone, television, and the list goes on. Shut down all your devices at least 1 hour before going to bed. These devices can be so ingrained in our lives so if you use a device as an alarm clock I recommend setting the device to silent and airplane mode – your alarm will still sound in the AM. Also, if you can, remove any devices from your room completely, especially if you don’t shut them down at night, this includes removing the TV! Try to use your bedroom for only sleep and intimacy.
Don’t overindulge before going to bed. Finish eating and exercising at least 2-3 hours prior to going to bed. Eating a healthy diet is beneficial for your health and can help with sleep. You may consider having a light snack of a tryptophan containing food (such as oats, dried dates, eggs, poultry, chickpeas, bananas, pumpkin or sunflower seeds) 30 minutes prior to bed to help induce sleep. Regular exercise can also promote a healthy sleep, but try not to do any strenuous exercise at least 4 hours prior to your bedtime.
If you have tried all these suggestions for 1-3 months and you’re still having difficulties with your sleep you may need some extra support. There are many natural solutions for sleep such as magnesium, melatonin, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, herbs including valerian, lavender, chamomile, and so many others. Before running out to the health food store to pick them all up make sure you consult your physician or naturopathic doctor to find one that is right for you.