As I write this it is 2:53 a.m. Yes, I am having sleep challenges as are 1 in 3 Americans according to the CDC. They recommend adults 18 to 60 get 7 hours of sleep per night, however, this is not occurring for most of us.
When we don’t get enough sleep we are at increased risk for chronic health problems such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, stroke, mental health issues, and obesity. Those states with the highest rates of obesity have the most problematic sleep concerns.
Now that I’ve given you the bad news here are some ideas to help you sleep
Plan for sleep
- 1 to 2 hours prior to sleep plan your day. Lay out your clothes, plan activities, and other things you wish to accomplish. This will allay anxiety.
- Wind down. Journal. Try to decrease light, as decreased lighting encourages the sleep process. Re-read your journal entry of the day’s activities.
- Begin grooming activities-warm bath, brush hair and teeth, prepare your bed. Wear clean clothes that are attractive, not t-shirts, or clothing items that disrespect the sleep process.
This rhythm of activities will provide a necessary process for sleep to occur.
- No televisions or electromagnetic devices in the bedroom. Remove clocks next to the bed.
- Refrain from using computers, television, or phones, (no texting), at least 1-2 hours before bed.
- Close drapes, use light blocking, heavy drapes.
- Keep the bedroom cool in temperature.
- Use light colored bed linens which are soft to the touch and fit the bed. Try out various textures of fabric.
- Change mattress every 5 to 8 years.
- Try different types of pillows.
- Consider a white noise machine or atomizer of lavender.
Foods Prior to Sleep
- Eat light for dinner and ensure it is several hours before sleep.
- Avoid alcohol 3 hours before sleep.
- Stop caffeine early in the day, especially coffee and sodas.
- Try a small snack of tryptophan such as bananas, dates, milk, nut butters or yogurt.
- Passion or valerian tea one hour before bedtime can assist with the relaxation process as can chamomile tea for some.
- Warm milk – try it with a teaspoon of vanilla and natural sweeter to improve taste.
Some people find yoga helps them sleep. Corpse Pose or Legs Up Against the Wall are two of the most effective yoga sleep poses. Note the pictures below demonstrating the poses:
Try A Mantra
These help many. Consider the following or make your own:
- “I am calm and relaxed.”
- “My body is feeling sleepier and sleepier.”
- Some say prayers over and over until they fall asleep.
- Think of what makes you relax, a walk in the woods, being at the beach. Pretend you are there.
- Add to it the smells and sounds which encourage relaxation. Birds singing, ocean waves, fireplace crackling, a gentle breeze on your face.
- Put in a component of relaxation where you are concentrating on breathing in and out, then begin tensing and relaxing every part of your body from toes to head.
Keep a sleep diary to see what worked, and what didn’t. Here is what to jot down:
- Date and time of going to bed.
- Approximate time you fell asleep.
- Number of hours slept.
- Amount of time it took to fall asleep.
- Feelings once awake 1-awake 2-tired 3-sleepy.
- Alcohol and caffeine volume and when.
- Naps – yes or no and amount of time.
- Exercise – promotes sleep but do it 4 hours prior to bedtime.
- Daytime feelings 1 wide awake 2 fairly awake 3 tired 4 struggling to stay awake.
Hope these ideas have helped.