Have you ever had difficulty falling asleep? I normally sleep well every night, but occasionally I will have trouble with sleeping. I’ve compiled a list of natural ways to improve your sleep for my insomniac friends out there as well as those who want to increase their energy with a great night’s rest.
1. Develop a Sleeping Routine
Getting in the habit of falling asleep and arising at the same time everyday fine-tunes your biological clock and makes sleeping easier. It can be tempting to stay out late on the weekends and sleep in a bit on the holidays, but it does mess up your routine.
For me, when I travel across time zones and try to fly red-eye flights, my sleep patterns get messed up. So, whenever possible I stick to a sleep/wake routine.
Exercise helps to wear you out and make you tired. Aerobic exercise four times a week has been demonstrated by the Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology to improve sleep quality. Initially, you will feel a bit more energized after a workout, but when it comes time to fall asleep, you will notice that you get deeper sleep and fall asleep faster on the days that you exercise.
3. Eat Healthy Foods
We have far too many processed foods in our diet that interfere with neurological health and brainwave activity. You should cut out the food and drinks that stimulate your mind specifically caffeine, coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
Dinner should be your lightest meal of the day. Skip the spicy and heavy foods that give you heartburn and indigestion.
4. Stop Smoking
Research done at Johns Hopkins University Department of Epidemiology discovered that smokers are four times more likely to not feel as well after a full night’s sleep. They attribute this to nicotine’s stimulative effect on the brain. The nighttime withdrawal from nicotine can interfere with brainwave patterns as well.
Smoking is known to increase sleep apnea and other breathing disorders. This can make it hard to get restful sleep as well.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can disrupt brainwaves and sleep patterns that make you feel refreshed in the morning. While alcohol has been known to help you doze off, once the effect wears off, you are likely to wake up and have difficulty falling asleep again.
6. Avoid the Electronics
According to the National Sleep Foundation, electronics right before bedtime stimulates your brain. This can make it difficult to turn your mind off and fall asleep. The best thing to do is to avoid computers, video games, and cell phones within the last hour before going to bed.
Using electronics before bed delays your body’s internal clock and suppresses the release of the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep. This is mostly due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that electronic devices emit.
7. Claim Your Space
People who share their beds with pets or children tend to experience sleep disruption every night. Dogs and kids can hog the bed and push you into an uncomfortable position on your own bed. Therefore, you may want to claim you bed space for yourself and banish the dogs and children to their own beds.
8. A Temperate Room
Warmer temperatures are great when you are enjoying a day at the beach, but when it gets above 75 degrees it can be difficult to fall asleep. The recommended temperature for sleeping is somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit according to the National Sleep Foundation.
When you lie in bed to fall asleep, your body temperature decreases to initiate sleep. A temperature between 60-67 degrees can help to encourage sleep. If your room is cool, it will be easier to shut your eyes for the night.
9. Keep it Dark
Light signals to your brain that it is time to wake up. Keep your room as dark as possible in order to fall asleep. Sometimes even the light from a cell phone or computer can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin and interrupt your sleep.
I’ve never been a fan of night lights and now I know why!
10. Only Sleep in Your Bed
Do not use your bed for relaxing, eating and watching television. Your brain will mentally associate your bed with these activities and as you lay down, you may be thinking about watching television instead of triggering your body to go to sleep.
You can try meditating or reading right before bed to get yourself sleepy.
Sleep is a wonderful way to rejuvenate your body. However, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may need to make these simple adjustments to your lifestyle to start feeling refreshed after a night of sleep again.