HEALTH & WELLNESS Middle Age Maladies  >  Not Sleeping? Try These Slumber Tips

Not Sleeping? Try These Slumber Tips

Not Sleeping? Try These Slumber Tips
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

BY SUSAN COBLENTZ

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. You’re lying awake in bed while everyone else in the house is peacefully dreaming the night away.

Your body is exhausted, but your mind is racing at light speed with all the thoughts and worries of the day. No matter what you do, you can’t mentally “will” yourself into slumber. The harder you try, the more elusive sleep becomes.

The above scenario happens to an estimated 70 million Americans on a regular basis, and nearly all of us have experienced a few restless nights in the past year.

But before you rush out to the pharmacy to pick up some prescription sleeping aids, it’s worth exploring a few natural remedies for peaceful rest.

Is Your Diet Letting You Sleep?

Diet and health go hand-in-hand. When you introduce natural, organic foods into your system, your entire body functions more smoothly. And nowhere is this link more pronounced than in the bedroom.

If you’re not eating enough fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty restless evening. It’s not enough to simply eat the right kinds of foods. You also have to avoid things like:

Sugars and starches. Elevated blood sugar levels will keep your body and mind awake. It’s better to keep your sugar intake to a minimum.

Processed foods. For starters, processed food is usually laden with sugar (or worse yet, high fructose corn syrup). Plus, you’re introducing all kinds of toxins and chemicals that your body simply can’t digest.

Caffeine. One of the reasons you need that morning cup of Joe is because you didn’t get enough rest the previous night. Ideally, you shouldn’t drink any caffeine at all (including tea and soda). But if you absolutely can’t survive without coffee, try limiting yourself to one cup maximum — preferably before 10 a.m.

Alcohol. Imbibing before bed may make you feel tired, but you’re only robbing yourself of REM — deep sleep that helps you feel rejuvenated the following morning.

Regardless of your diet, be sure not to eat anything within three hours of going to bed. Digesting food requires a lot of energy, and having a full stomach is a surefire recipe for insomnia.

The Importance of Exercise and Sleep

Regular physical activity  has been proven to boost your energy levels (during the day) and improve your ability to sleep (at night). It’s a paradox, but the research is indisputable. If you’re serious about increasing both the quality and duration of your dreams, then make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle.

The great news is you don’t have to work out every single day. If you can manage to squeeze in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three or more times a week, you’ll begin feeling the positive effects pretty quickly.

Sticking to the Same Sleep Schedule

If you’re like most Americans, you treat sleep like mobile rollover minutes, as though you can make up for lost rest tomorrow. When you really need to recharge, you tell yourself you can just sleep in on the weekend.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to the National Institute on Aging, irregular sleeping patterns are one of the biggest insomnia culprits. You’re much better off establishing a rigid schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day —  especially Saturdays and Sundays.

Create a Pre-Bed Routine

Getting up early on the weekends? It sounds impossible at first, doesn’t it? But if you establish a “wind down” routine that you follow every evening, you’ll eventually develop the habit of “feeling tired” at the same time every day.

Some of the more popular pre-bed habits include:

Meditating

Drinking herbal tea (especially chamomile)

Taking a hot bath or shower

Reading fiction

Dimming the lights (at least one hour before you head to bed)

Many insomniacs find journaling to be particularly useful. Writing down your thoughts frees your mind of worries that might otherwise keep you awake at night.

Experiment with different pre-bed routines and find something that suits you. Just be sure to avoid TVs and smartphones within a few hours of going to bed. The unnatural light and excessive stimuli will make it harder to fall asleep. Worse still, you may wake up with what sleep researchers at Michigan State University have dubbed a “tech hangover.”

Reinforcing the Sleeping Habit

When you can’t fall asleep, you probably lie in bed for hours and hours, waiting for dreams to come.

But this is another huge mistake.

As creatures of habit, we’re incredibly receptive to triggers that put us into certain mind states. For example, lacing up your jogging shoes puts you in exercise mode. And applying your morning makeup puts you in work mode.

The same holds true for rest. Entering the bedroom should put you in sleep mode.

According to Dr. Russell Rosenberg, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, if you don’t fall asleep within the first 10 minutes of climbing into bed, you should get out of the bedroom altogether.

Rather than lie awake in nocturnal torture, you should repeat your wind down routine again and again until you really feel sleepy.

Sweet dreams!

Suzanne Coblentz is the Director of Offline and Social Media for Nava Health & Vitality Center. Nava Center’s goal is to introduce each of their clients to a new side of total body wellness.

 

 

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...