Insomnia and associated sleep problems seem to be part and parcel of our modern life. Chances are good that you’ve experienced this firsthand. Few things are more frustrating than not being able to sleep, or falling asleep only to wake up in the middle of the night to toss and turn for hours.
Sleep issues can have a variety of causes. Fortunately, there are simple steps that you can take on your own to address them. They’re not time-consuming or complicated. Rather, they’re small things you can do that can have a big payout in your rest.
If your sleep quality isn’t what you want and need it to be, consider trying these tips.
1. Change Dietary Habits
It’s ok to snack in the evening, but it’s important to snack wisely if you want to sleep well. It’s best to avoid a lot of processed carbs and simple sugars. The spikes in insulin and energy that they cause can interrupt your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Rather, choose a healthy snack. A small bit of protein with a complex, natural carb is often a good way to go. Also consider foods that have tryptophan, such as turkey, milk, or nuts.
2. Power Down Before Bed
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the rise of electronic usage has also led to a rise in sleep troubles. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that tablets, smart phones, computers, and televisions emit blue light.
Blue light, unfortunately, makes it hard to fall asleep. It interferes with the body’s normal production of melatonin in the evening when light wanes. The evening rise of melatonin is an important part of our circadian rhythm and prepares our bodies for sleep.
You’ll make it easier for yourself to fall asleep if you turn off your devices an hour before bed and dim other lights in the house as well.
3. Print and Paper
You may wonder what you’ll do in the evening if you power off your devices. Fortunately, there are a number of less stimulating, more relaxing options.
Many people enjoy reading books before bedtime. You can also consider keeping a journal to corral all the distracting thoughts floating through your head that wake you up at night. Likewise, draw up your to-do list for the next day or jot down your worries. When you put things on paper, it’s easier to set them aside at bedtime.
Using botanically derived oils has become very popular in recent years, and for good reason. Many people find that scents such as lavender, Roman chamomile, jasmine, clary sage, and sandalwood are effective in helping them relax and doze off.
You can diffuse these scents into the air or mix them with a carrier oil and dab them on your wrists. Be sure to use essential oils, though, and not artificial fragrances. Also make sure that they’re safe to use around children and pets.
Yoga offers many health benefits. One of these is improving sleep quality.
In particular, poses that increase blood flow to your head and provide deep stretches can be helpful. One option is to lie on your back with your legs up against the wall. This pose improves circulation throughout your body, increasing oxygen saturation.
We recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube as a good place to get started.
6. Guided Meditation
If you haven’t heard of the Head Space app, please check it out! It offers some wonderful guided meditations and relaxation exercises to help you transition into sleep.
These can be helpful because our minds often spin out of control with thoughts and worries once we hit the pillow. Guided meditations help you quiet those thoughts down.
Exercise, even only 20-30 minutes a day, is another proven method to improve your sleep quality. It burns off excess energy and releases important endorphins.
If you find yourself plagued by continuing sleep problems despite these steps, consider reaching out to a therapist. Anxiety and depression can often interfere with the body’s sleep-wake cycle. But it’s possible to address those causes through therapy. Please call our office to learn more!