Sleep tips for anyone having difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night.
Fortunately for most of us falling asleep and sleeping through the night are not an issue. For others however, nighttime is first a battle to get to sleep and second a battle to stay asleep. Others sleep through the night but don’t feel rested when they wake up. Nearly all of us will sometimes have difficulty getting to sleep or getting back to sleep. Below are some tips that might help with this problem.
It’s helpful to know that the ideal amount of sleep per night for good health is 7 hours. This does vary from person to person but should not vary much beyond 1 hour, making the range of ideal sleep time from 6 to 8 hours.
It’s best to establish a nighttime ritual: go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. Your ritual may include reading, bathing/showering, meditation, prayer, deep breathing; whatever helps you relax. Include going to the bathroom just before going to bed.
Go to bed as early as possible. Our bodies normally do a majority of their recharging and recovering from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. The gallbladder dumps toxins during those hours. If you are not asleep, the toxins back up into the liver and subsequently in your entire system and may cause disruption of your health.
One of the best known tips for getting a good night’s sleep is to avoid caffeine products just before bed. Avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, cocoa and soft drinks for at least two hours before going to bed. Avoiding caffeine entirely is an excellent idea.
Avoid all fluids two hours before going to bed.
On those nights when I can’t fall asleep or fall asleep only to wake up a few hours later, I’ve used the trick of menthol-camphor salve. This can be readily purchased over the counter. Vicks Vap-o-Rub is one brand but my preference the one made by the Watkins Company. Just try a bit below the nose and a small bit right above the eyebrow. The scent it will leave on your fingers if held close to your nose will help also. If there is an allergy problem with putting it directly on your skin, put some salve inside an old cloth and fold it over. Then lay the cloth on the pillow beside your face. As a side benefit, Menthol Camphor salve is quite effective as a first aid item for cuts, bruises, burns, sore muscles, etc.
Another useful tip for those times when it is difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep is to move to another room. Moving to the sofa, a comfy chair, or another bedroom will often bring on sleep right away.
Listening to relaxing music or CD’s of recorded nature sounds, water sounds, or white noise, etc. may be very beneficial for sleeping. For musicians, listening to music may not work as they become too distracted by the music or annoyed with it if it’s repetitive.
Avoid sugary before-bed snacks. Sometimes these help one fall asleep but may cause wake-ups during the night and then an inability to fall back to sleep. Liquor can act in the same way – causing one to fall soundly asleep only to wake up several hours later and be unable to fall back to sleep.
Eating a high-protein snack several hours before bed will be beneficial as it helps with production of melatonin and serotonin. Eating a small piece of fruit will also be helpful for this.
Turn off the TV 30 minutes to an hour before bed time and don’t use it to help you fall asleep.
Do not put your clock where the time can be seen from your bed. Watching the hours tick by only adds to the stress that may be keeping you awake. The light from your clock may also be quite bright so turn it away from the bed. Likewise, avoid the use of loud alarm clocks or clocks that make a loud ticking noise.
For those with a religious bent, lying in bed praying can be very useful.
Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Avoid nightlights. Tiny though they may be, the additional light may disturb your sleep by reducing your levels of melatonin and serotonin. If you get up to use the bathroom, avoid turning on any lights as the light will stop your body’s production of melatonin for the night. You may want to wear an eye mask to keep excess light away from you.
Wearing socks to bed has been found to reduce waking during the night.
Keep the temperature in your bedroom around 70 degrees F. A room which is too hot can cause many problems with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Take a hot bath or shower before retiring.
Put away any homework or other work an hour before retiring.
Lose weight. Being overweight can contribute to sleep apnea which can cause lack of restful sleep.
Have your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine physician. Adrenal stress can cause poor sleep. Hormonal issues brought on by menopause or perimenopause can also cause sleep issues so see a natural medicine physician for these problems as well.
Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMF’s). EMF’s can disrupt production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other poor health effects as well. A Gauss Meter is used to test for EMF’s and a relatively inexpensive model can be found for around $45. Turn off as many electrical items as possible in your bedroom.
Some people who never suffer from sleep problems may have unusually stressful events occur in their lives that suddenly make sleeping through the night very difficult. Death of a loved, a difficult work situation, or worry about unemployment can wreak havoc on sleep behavior. At those times, it may feel as though your mind is racing, turning over all the issues surrounding stressful events, or grieving. My solution for these times, has been to get up and read a book for a short time. In my experience, a novel with a really trivial story line is the best, something like an English murder mystery. Read enough to get the story line in your head – maybe 30 minutes to an hour. Do not stay up reading it – the books you pick shouldn’t be that compelling! You will find that the story has caused your mind to stop churning over your problems and is now pondering the problems of the main characters, allowing you to drop off to sleep. I call this redirection of concentration and it’s very similar to the proverbial “counting sheep” method to fall asleep but much more effective and mind-engaging.
My last technique is tongue-in-cheek but I swear it will work! I’ve completed many insurance courses through the years. Every textbook written about insurance is more intensely boring than the last. The challenge to studying these courses is of course, staying awake! So, if you can find an old insurance textbook or two at a discount bookstore, buy one! I’ve always called them 'the guaranteed insomnia cure'!
Joking aside, losing sleep night after night is not at all healthy or pleasant. Give a few of these tips a try and find one or two that really work for you. Sleep well!