No one likes the feeling of lying in bed at night, tossing and turning, waiting to finally doze off. Sometimes, even when you’re tired, a racing mind can keep you up at night, making you wish you could just shut it off and go straight to sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep or getting enough restful sleep each night, there are a few things you can change during your day to get better rest. Here are a couple of healthy, doctor-approved steps you can take today for a better night’s sleep tonight.
Skip the afternoon coffee
If you still need your cup of coffee in the morning to get you going, limit it to just one. Even though you may not feel the effects of your afternoon cup a few hours after you drink it, caffeine has a half life of about 5 hours. This means that half of the amount of the caffeine you ingest is still in the body after 5 hours, and half of that amount remains 5 hours later, and so on. The caffeine in your blood stream remains far after your cup of coffee is finished, which can still affect your ability to fall asleep.
Don’t eat right before bed
Digesting a heavy meal may make you initially feel drowsy, but it can also cause heartburn and stomach upset that may lead to restless sleep. Going to sleep hungry can also prevent you from having quality sleep, so if you need to eat something before bed, make it something healthy and light. Avoid spicy or fatty foods, which trigger indigestion and stomach troubles.
Make your bedroom a place for relaxation only
Make your sleep environment a place you associate only with relaxation, so that both your mind and body recognize it as the place in which you are meant fall asleep and get the best rest. Take small steps to make sure your bedroom is dark, at a cool temperature, and quiet- so consider finding black out curtains, a method of air conditioning, a white noise maker, and even a humidifier to help your breathing if the air is too dry. These small additions can help make your room the perfect sleep environment for you.
Set a routine
Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is your “body clock” that tells you when you should feel tired, and when you should feel awake. Set a routine of things you do every night, which will help inform your body that it’s time to transition into rest-mode. One thing you can add to your evening routine is a bath, which raises your body temperature, and makes it easier to feel calm and relaxed.
Try reading instead of watching TV before bed
TV can be highly stimulating, and the blue light has been shown to affect the secretion of melatonin: the hormone that regulates sleep and circadian rhythm. The short wavelength of the artificial blue light found in electronic screens decreases the secretion of melatonin, which tricks your body to into thinking it needs to be awake. Try reading before bed instead, which reduces stress and promotes relaxation. If you still like watching TV in the evening to unwind, you definitely still can! Just try to finish an hour before you go to bed.
Exercise, but not right before bed
Rigorous exercise releases the stimulant adrenaline, which can keep you from feeling sleepy before you get in bed. While regular exercise is key to healthy sleep hygiene, try working out a few hours before bed, or sticking to light or moderate exercise if late at night is the only available time for your workout.
If you are experiencing insomnia, and have been for an extended period of time, you may need to consult with a doctor. Our doctors can always help at any time to give you personalized tips on the best things you can do to improve your sleep!
Author: Maggie Harriman