Tips for Better Sleep
Your sleep environment:
Light tells the brain that it is day time. Light exposure at night throws off your internal clock. Block blue light from electronics by turning off or by wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evenings. If you have street lights outside your window use blackout curtains in your bedroom.
Finding the perfect temperature for you and sticking with it will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider air temperature, bedding and sleepwear when finding the best temperature for you, and know that it will probably be a few degrees lower than what is comfortable during the day time.
A drop in body temperature close to bedtimes triggers our body that it’s time to sleep. You don’t want to do anything close to bedtime that increases your body temperature, such as exercising or taking a hot shower. Both exercise and hot showers can help you sleep better, but do so an hour or so before bed, giving your body time to cool back down.
Block out sleep disrupting sounds. Some noises from sleep apps or CDs, like white noise and the sound of the ocean or storms, might help you sleep better. Turn down the television.
Adding pleasant and relaxing scents, such as lavender and geranium in a diffuser, can help you relax and sleep better.
Having an uncluttered and organized bedroom can also help you relax and sleep better.
Your sleep Routine:
Developing a sleep routine and sticking with it each night (yes, even on weekends) can help you fall asleep effortlessly. Below are suggestions you can use when developing your own personalized routine.
Consistent bedtime – Setting a consistent bedtime routine and sticking with it will help your body prepare for sleep each night and make it easier to slip into sweet slumber. Stick with your bed time, even on weekends.
Lights out – A few hours before bedtime, begin dimming the lights in the house and shutting off electronics. If you have blue light blocking glasses, now is the time to bust them out.
Turn the thermostat down – Cooling off helps the body know it is time to sleep.
Warm shower or bath – Warm showers/baths can be relaxing and a trigger for the body that sleep is near, just be sure not to take it too close to bedtime.
Warm, decaf herbal tea – Warm drinks like herbal teas or milk are also relaxing and can trigger the body for sleep. Passionfruit tea contains harman alkaloids which act on the nervous system to make you tired. Milk contains tryptophan (just like your thanksgiving turkey), which increases serotonin and contributes to drowsiness.
Read a book – Replace those blue light emitting electronics with books, which many find helpful for falling asleep.
Gratitude Journal – Simply jotting down three things you are grateful for each night can help you replace negative, anxious thoughts with positive, peaceful thoughts, in turn helping you sleep better.
Bedtime snack (if you must) – If you are hungry and need a bedtime snack, avoid simple sugars from foods like desserts and sweets which tend to decrease serotonin and go for complex carbohydrates like popcorn and oatmeal. Nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and fruit, like tart cherries, bananas, pineapple, oranges and kiwi contain melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Like milk, cottage cheese contains tryptophan and is high in protein, helping to stabilize blood sugar. Also avoid eating heavy meals close to bed which tends to disrupt sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bed. While you may like that glass of wine to help you fall asleep at night, alcohol decreases REM sleep and causes you to wake up more during the night. Caffeine makes it more difficult to fall asleep and affects REM and deep sleep. Caffeine can affect people differently, but some find that setting a rule for themselves not to drink caffeine containing beverages after lunch, or after 2 p.m. helps them sleep better at night.
Breathing techniques – Practicing relaxing breathing techniques is a great way to prepare your brain for sleep and to help you fall asleep on those nights when it is really difficult.
Waking up the same time each day – Like having a consistent bedtime, having a consistent wake time (even on the weekends) helps your body synchronize its internal processes to daily events within the environment, which is called the circadian rhythm. Being consistent with wake time helps your body know when it is sleep time.