Sometimes, it is hard to fall asleep. And it is even more frustrating to go back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night. Being sleepless and restless during bedtime is often related to stress and physical or even emotional conditions.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 70 million people in the United States are affected by a sleep problem. Americans suffering from chronic sleep disorders number about 40 million, and an additional 20-30 million are affected by intermittent sleep-related problems.
More importantly, studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one’s sleep and many health problems. For example, insufficient sleep may be linked to weight gain, hypertension, cardiovascular problems and the onset of diabetes.
Sleeplessness can often lead to insomnia or sleep apnea. In most cases, sleeplessness is simply a matter of poor sleeping habits.
Here is a list of tips for sleeping restfully. These tips are intended for “typical” adults with occasional sleep problems. This list is not for those with medical problems or necessarily for children.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Our bodies have a natural clock and a regular sleep schedule conditions our physiology with a sleep-wake cycle. A regular waking time in the morning strengthens this cycle and can help the onset of sleep at night. It is important to keep a regular bedtime and wake-time, even on the weekends when there is the temptation to sleep-in.
Establishing a regular sleep routine will condition your mind and body to switch from activity to sleep. Your routine might include listening to soothing music, reading a book or a warm soak in the tub (it should be done early enough that you are no longer sweating or over-heated). Also, try an herbal tea with no caffeine to help you fall asleep.
After working or studying, allow a couple of minutes of relaxation before you jump into bed.
Another easy trick just before retiring is to dim the lights to tell your body it is time to rest. Find suitable lighting for your room. Too much light can be distracting so you might want to turn it off for a restful sleep. On the other hand, some people can’t sleep without the lights on. If this is the case, it would a good idea to have a study lamp on or anything that can be a source of dim lights.
Make sure that your room is noise-free by the time you hit the bed. Turn off all appliances, like TV or radio, which might keep you awake.
Steer clear of foods that are high in sugar like chocolate desserts and caffeinated drinks minutes before heading to sleep.
Avoid eating a heavy meal before bedtime. You should finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime and avoid spicy foods that may cause heartburn. In addition, many people think alcohol is a sedative, but it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. Other things to avoid include caffeine (e.g. coffee, soft drinks and chocolate) and cigarettes (nicotine).
Do not involve yourself with exhausting activities, like exercising, right before going to bed.
Your Bed is not a Desk
The only purpose of your bed is for sleeping and sex. DO NOT use it as a workspace for sorting out papers or working on projects. Create a healthy “body” relaxing environment and not a “brain” activity space. Remove work materials, computers and televisions out of your sleep environment.
Your bedroom should be pleasing, clutter-free and reflect the value you have for sleep. Your bed and pillows should be comfortable. Adjust the elements in your sleep environment such as light (dark is best), temperature and noise. If necessary, use blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, air purifiers, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
The temperature of the room is also of prime importance. If you have an air-conditioning unit in your room, make sure that you set it in your preferred temperature so you wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to adjust the temperature because it’s too warm or too cold.
Nurture Your Body
Visiting a holistic therapist each month will help release body tension, quiet the mind and correct any imbalances. The choices are unlimited, like acupuncture, massage, reflexology, chiropractic and more.
Avoid exercising late at night because it raises your body temperature and makes you more alert. If you exercise at night, complete your workout at least a three hours before bedtime. A great time to exercise is late afternoon.
Diet and Supplements
Feed your body healthy nutritional food with plenty of fresh green vegetables and fresh fruit. In addition, you can take a high quality supplement (multi-vitamin liquid or tablet) each day.
Resolve Mental and Emotional Issues
Anxiety can also be a reason for sleeplessness. Try not to think of anything you should worry about before sleeping. If a soothing music can help you veer away from anxious thoughts, then you can turn the radio.
Unplug from your day and leave the office at the office. If you still have a list of things leftover it is best to write them down with a simple to-do list for the morning. Avoid having arguments unresolved. If you have an issue with something that was said, or are angry, then write your feelings in a journal and do a brain download. Do NOT re-read this journal. If you still have issues in the morning, then speak to that person or speak to a professional.
Don’t Watch the Clock
If you can NOT fall asleep, it is best NOT to lie in bed and try to “force” yourself to sleep. Avoid checking the clock repeatedly. According to experts, if you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed and go to another room. Try something relaxing such as listening to music or reading.
Your physical condition could also dictate your sleeping habits. If you are not feeling well, you would obviously have a hard time getting some needed sleep too. Always consult your doctor if you notice any symptoms of any kind of ailment or disease.
In conclusion, getting a good night sleep every night is important to recharge your body and mind. The quality of sleep and quantity of sleep is crucial for health, safety and longevity.