How many times have you gone to bed at night and found it difficult to fall asleep? Or worse yet, do you wake in the early hours of the morning and toss and turn while you struggle to get back to sleep?
We all know that getting a good nights sleep is important to our mental and physical health, and ability to function during the day.
One large study linked lack of sleep to increased obesity risk of 55% in adults (and 89% in children). Sleeping for less than 7 to 8 hours per night also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Even though you can make a conscious decision to head to the gym or to eat healthy food, getting a good nights sleep is an elusive problem that a lot of people seem to have little control over.
- 1. Don’t eat a big meal before bed
- 2. Do a brain dump
- 3. Have a hot bath or shower before bed
- 4. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
- 5. Consider supplements that promote sleep
- 6. Alcohol is not a cure
- 7. Too much liquid before bed
- 8. Exercise
- 9. Try your best to stay awake
- 10. Make your room cooler
- 10. Wash your face with cold water
- 11. Hide your clock
- 12. Get up if you can’t sleep
- 13. Get a comfortable bed or pillow
1. Don’t eat a big meal before bed
Some foods are known to cause vivid dreams. However, if you can’t get to sleep in the first place, this won’t be your problem.
Sleeping with a stomach full of food not only makes you feel uncomfortable, but it also means your body is actively working to digest your food when you should be sleeping. If you suffer from reflux (20-48% of Westerners do), eating immediately before bed can cause heartburn, difficulty swallowing and, in some cases, nighttime asthma.
Our best advice is not to eat for at least 3 hours before bed.
2. Do a brain dump
How often have you gone to bed thinking about what you need to do the next day?
Often the things running through your head are related to work or outstanding tasks. Other times they are just random thoughts that don’t make much sense at the time.
Try writing down all the things you need to do and any thoughts before you lay down for the night. By emptying your thoughts onto paper, you can sleep soundly knowing that nothing will be forgotten in the morning.
3. Have a hot bath or shower before bed
The warm water serves two purposes.
Firstly it helps relax your muscles. But more importantly, relaxing in a bath or shower will help you clear your mind of stress and to give you time to wind down at the end of a busy day.
Scientists recommend that you take a bath an hour or two before you want to go to sleep. A study by Cornell University found that your body temperature naturally drops at night. The dropping in temperature is what helps your body get to sleep sooner and to achieve a deeper rest.
When you take a bath in warm or hot water, your body temperature naturally rises. The cooldown period after the bath is actually what relaxes you. If you go to bed too soon after a hot bath, your body will not get the chance to cool down and this tip won’t be as effective.
Adding a lavender, chamomile, and magnesium bath bomb to the water will make it even more effective.
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4. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
Caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours. While a single dose can enhance your focus and energy, it also stimulates your nervous system and can stop your body relaxing at night.
If you have to drink coffee in the late afternoon, try drinking decaffeinated coffee instead.
Also, don’t forget that caffeine is present in teas, chocolate, cola and pain killers.
5. Consider supplements that promote sleep
Several supplements can help your body relax and help you sleep.
- Melatonine – A sleep hormone that tells your brain to relax. 2mg, 30 to 60 minutes before bed improves sleep quality and energy the next day (Not suitable for children)
- Valerian root – Several studies suggest that 500mg before bed can help you fall asleep
- Magnesium – Used by athletes to stop cramp, this supplement also helps your muscles relax
- Glycine – A few studies have shown that 3g of this amino acid can improve sleep quality
- L-theanine – Another amino acid. Take 100 to 200mg before bed
Important: Makes sure you only try one supplement at a time. If you are taking any medications or have underlying health conditions, check with your doctor first. (We are not doctors)
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6. Alcohol is not a cure
Even though alcohol may make you feel sleepy, a couple of drinks at night can cause sleep apnea, snoring and waking throughout the night.
Studies have also shown that alcohol decreases levels of the human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone regulates your circadian rhythm and helps your body decide when it is time to sleep and to be awake.
7. Too much liquid before bed
We are all told that we need to stay hydrated and to drink 6 to 10 glasses of water per day (more if you are exercising). However, waking up to urinate is the number one reason people struggle to sleep through the night.
Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. if you can manage it, try not to drink any fluids for 1 or 2 hours before you go to bed. You should also use the bathroom before jumping into bed to reduce the fluid levels in your system.
Exercise can cut the time it takes to fall to sleep by as much as half. Studies have also shown that people that exercise get an extra 41 minutes of sleep at night.
Don’t leave your exercise too late in the day as it also increases alertness, epinephrine, and adrenaline. You need to give your body time to process these hormones before heading to bed. Allow at least a couple of hours.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much exercise to have a positive effect. Even a few minutes of physical exercise during the day can make a difference.
9. Try your best to stay awake
According to Psychotherapist Julie Hirst, laying in bed and trying to stay awake can actually trick your brain into falling asleep.
To try this technique, lay in bed with your eyes wide open and repeat the phrase “I will not sleep” over and over again in your mind. Apparently, the brain doesn’t like to focus on negative thoughts and instead interprets this as instruction for your eyes to get tired and for sleep to set in.
10. Make your room cooler
Sleeping in a room that is too warm will certainly stop you from falling asleep. (The same applies if a room is too cold)
The human body sleeps much better with a room temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only does this temperature range help you get to sleep initially, but it also helps you stay asleep and to get better quality sleep while you are dreaming.
Tip: If you have a baby in the room try raising the temperature slightly to between 65 and 70 degrees and keep the baby or crib away from windows or fans. This will help the baby sleep better and will result in a better nights sleep for you too.
10. Wash your face with cold water
You may think that washing your face with cold water would shock you into being wide awake. Scientific studies have proven the opposite to be true.
Putting your head in cold water triggers an involuntary phenomenon called the Mammalian Dive Reflex. As a response to cold water, the body lowers its heart rate and blood pressure – both of which help your body to relax.
If you also slip on a pair of socks before getting under the sheets, the body will also redirect blood flow from your extremities back into your core. A 1999 study confirms that having warm hands and feet can predict how quickly you’ll fall asleep.
11. Hide your clock
By all means set an alarm to wake you up in the morning, but otherwise, hide your clock so you can’t stare at it during the night or while you are trying to get to sleep in the first place.
Looking at an alarm clock throughout the night increases your levels of stress. For some people, it can also trigger panic attacks.
The same applies to mobile phones and tablet devices. The blue light they emit prevents the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and notifications (or vibrations in silent mode) can easily wake you from a light sleep.
12. Get up if you can’t sleep
If you wake in the middle of the night for 20 minutes or more, get up and read or take a slow walk around the house. Normally it only takes half an hour to feel truly tired and to head back to bed for a good nights sleep.
Fighting to get back to sleep will only stress you out more and make it harder to settle.
13. Get a comfortable bed or pillow
If you haven’t replaced your mattress in the last 8 to 10 years, it may be the cause of your restless sleep.
A recent study has shown that a new mattress reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60% and back stiffness by 59%. The study also showed that a new mattress improved sleep quality by a massive 60%.
According to WebMD, pillows should be replaced every 12 to 18 months. The build-up of dust mites in a pillow can trigger allergic reactions that make it harder to sleep.
You also need to make sure you are sleeping with the right type of pillow your sleeping position. If you sleep on your stomach, you need a thin and flat pillow. However, if you sleep on your side, you will need something a little bit firmer to fill the gap between your ear and shoulder.
|Back||Synthetic (Hypoallergenic)||View on Amazon|
|Side||Synthetic (Hypoallergenic)||View on Amazon|
|Side||Goose Down||View on Amazon|
|Stomach||Synthetic (Hypoallergenic)||View on Amazon|
|Stomach||Duck Down||View on Amazon|