Staying asleep through the night can be torture for the weary. Sleep is a natural body process making it seem rather simple. It’s not simple, if you are an insomniac.
If resorting to pharmaceutical sleep aids is not your cup of chamomile tea, then check your daily routine with these tips for a great night of zzzz’s.
During the Day:
- Invest in a new mattress or pillow if you wake up with a sore neck or back. Determine if you are a side, back or stomach sleeper. Buy your pillow based on keeping your neck in line with your spine.
- Buy some killer threadcount sheets. Whether you prefer soft and luxurious or crisp and clean, go for the highest threadcount your budget can handle.
- Regular exercise is probably the best way to improve your sleep. Be sure to exercise at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Exercise tires your body so that your body and mind can rest. Even a brisk walk can help. Your body will heat up during exercise and your heart rate will increase. As you cool down, you will be more relaxed.
- Increase your light exposure during the day by opening blinds, going outside or buy a light therapy box. A light therapy box can simulate sunshine and help to reset your circadian rhythms.
- No napping during the day as it can make insomnia even worse. If you find yourself falling asleep on the couch long before bedtime, get up and do something mildly stimulating until it is time for bed.
- Ditch caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime. Make sure caffeine is out of your system by bedtime.
- Stop eating and drinking alcohol 2 hours before bed. Give your food a chance to digest before going to sleep. Alcohol, while it can help lull you to sleep, is only disruptive later on in the night.
- Take a magnesium supplement with dinner. Magnesium deficiency is rampant in our society with some estimates of up to 80% of us are magnesium deficient. Bonus—magnesium helps with constipation too.
Preparing for Bed:
- Establish a regular bedtime schedule. Your circadian rhythms cannot handle trying to figure out when it’s time to shut down and start critical background processes that occur when you sleep if your bedtimes vary. Staying up past your bedtime for a Saturday night out and staying in bed late on a Sunday morning can wreak havoc on your sleep.
- Take a hot shower/warm bath an hour or so before bed (add epsom salts to your bath and a few drops of soothing essential oils like Lavender, Chamomile or Sandalwood). There is nothing like being clean before bed, especially on clean sheet night!
- Make preparations for the next day. Pick out tomorrow’s clothes, plan the next day’s meals, place things you will need to remember to take by the backdoor– whatever tasks may worry you during the night.
- Do it or make a list. If undone household chores are stressing you out, do them now and the exertion may help you stay asleep longer. If not, make a list of what needs to be done to clear your mind.
- Start turning down the lights an hour or so before bed. Your body is signaled that sleep time is approaching.
- Avoid drinking a lot of liquids right before bed so you won’t have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom. On the flipside, be sure that dehydration is not one of your reasons for lack of sleep. Drink plenty of water during the day.
- Put a notepad, flashlight and pen by your bedside to record those epic ideas you come up with in the middle of the night (or things you forgot to do) rather than ruminate about them all night.
- Turn down the A/C to about 65 degrees. A too hot or too cold bedroom can disturb your sleep.
- Put the iPad/iPhone/iWatch/iPod in another room. Not only are electronic devices a distraction but the blue light emitted from TV, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens disrupts the brain’s natural melatonin production and can trigger alertness, keeping you awake later. And middle-of-the-night texts and emails can disrupt your sleep as well.
- Turn off the TV. In fact, just remove it from the bedroom entirely. No noise, no light, no insomnia.
- Darken the room completely. Close blinds and curtains. Hang room darkening curtains. Wear a sleep mask if necessary.
- Wear earplugs or use a white noise generator. A noise may wake you up and you won’t even realize what woke you. Mask outside noises like barking dogs, noisy neighbors or traffic with a white noise machine.
- Turn on your aromatherapy diffuser and add essential oils scents such as Ylang Ylang, Orange, Clary Sage or Geranium. Be sure your diffuser doesn’t have a light on it or is too noisy.
- Turn the alarm clock away so you cannot see it. Staring at it won’t help.
In the Middle of the Night:
- If your stomach wakes you up with indigestion, try some therapeutic-grade ginger and/or peppermint essential oil or eat some ginger or caraway seeds.
- Go to another room if you lie awake for more than 15 minutes. Sit in another part of the house until you feel a little groggy. Read a book until you get sleepy and then go back to bed.
- If you have to get up at night to go to the bathroom, try not to turn on the light. Use a flashlight instead. The light will signal your brain (and your pets) that it is time to wake up.
Most Important Way to Beat Insomnia:
- Clean up your nutrition. If you make no other changes to your routine, dietary changes will have the most effect on your sleep. Add more veggies and fruit, ditch the refined and processed foods, and skip the sugar.
What tips do you have to stay asleep?
Joli Tripp is a wellness advocate, blogger, professional home stager, Realtor, wife, and self-proclaimed foodie.
Joli is passionate about making simple changes at the grocery store, at home and in life to attain abundant health. Her journey back to health is held out for others to examine and gather their courage to do the same. She provides practical advice about food, wellness, home and garden using natural solutions such as essential oils.