It’s common wisdom that a good night’s sleep is important, but what if you have insomnia? Those who have trouble falling asleep, or fall asleep easily enough, but can’t seem to stay asleep, are missing out on a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Some medications designed to help you sleep carries some unsettling side effects, like hallucinations and walking, eating, or driving in your sleep, but don’t despair! There are some natural ways to promote better sleep, without risks to your health and well-being.
- Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Your bedroom should not be a place to work, eat, watch television, or do other daytime activities. Rather, it should be an oasis of sleep, with soft lights and comfortable bedding- and no television. To create an even more relaxing atmosphere, turn your clock away from your view, and bump the thermostat down a few notches.
- Get into a routine. It’s sometimes hard to stick to a schedule, but going to bed at the same time every night can make it easier to fall asleep. Another thing that makes sleep come more easily is to create a soothing bedtime routine for yourself, much like you would for a small child. You might have a light snack two hours before bedtime, then take a relaxing bath or shower, and read or listen to calming music to help get you ready to sleep. Avoid watching television, checking your smartphone or going online right before you go to bed, because the light from electronic devices can disturb your
- Be smart about napping. If you start to drag in the late afternoon, it can be very tempting to take a nap. Limit your snooze time to about a 20 minute catnap, and it won’t interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Find ways to de-stress. It’s no secret that worries and stress can keep you tossing and turning at night. Work some downtime into your bedtime routine, and consider writing in a journal so that you can decrease your brain activity by literally closing the book on your day.
- Watch what you ingest. Don’t eat heavily at night, and certainly not within 2-3 hours of bedtime. You don’t want to have anything substantial to digest when you’re trying to go to sleep. If you get hungry at night, have a light snack about 2 hours before sleep- mostly carbohydrates with a little bit of protein. You might choose half a bagel with peanut butter, a sliced apple with cheese, yogurt with granola, a piece of whole wheat bread with a slice of deli turkey, or something similar. Avoid caffeine and nicotine, because these can raise blood pressure and energy levels, and don’t drink alcohol too close to bedtime, either. While it may initially make you sleepy, it will also disrupt your sleep patterns.
- Try a natural sleep aid. Herbal teas, like chamomile, help some people relax and sleep. Warm milk is another gentle and natural sleep aid. There are many supplements that people find useful as well, such as melatonin, but consult your healthcare provider before you give any supplements a try.
- Consider a monitor. Especially if you go to bed at night and yet don’t feel rested in the morning, a monitor can be a tool to help you solve the mystery. Sleep tracking activity monitors can help pinpoint the problems in your sleep patterns, and let you know if you’re not getting enough deep sleep. They also act as tiny, electronic coaches, motivating you to take the right steps to improve your sleep.
If you’ve feel like you’ve tried everything, and you still can’t get enough sleep, it might be time to seek the help of a professional. At our clinic, we are committed to helping our patients achieve a healthy life balance, and that includes helping them figure out how to get the necessary sleep. To learn how we can help you, visit our website or call us today for your free consultation.