Getting good sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health (and for our looks, believe it or not). But unfortunately, one third of all Americans get less than 6 hours a night.
I love sleep. Always have… and hopefully, always will. Having said that, I’ve gone through stressful stages in my life where I can struggle mildly falling asleep and it’s one of the worst things ever! My husband, Michael, isn’t a great sleeper. Neither is his mom, brother, or grandparents. Over the years together, we’ve learned some tips that improved his sleep and I wanted to share with you all.
Studies show that daily exercise can help improve the quality and quantity of our sleep.
If you think about it, our bodies are made to move. If we are stuck at a desk all day or cooped up inside, we can’t expect our bodies to not toss and turn during the night as they need to burn off the extra energy.
Take a look at children; they’re running around all day and crash at night. It’s also hard *not* to sleep when our body’s are physically tired.
One tip: try to exercise first thing in morning or early afternoon since exercise is a stimulant and could actually KEEP you awake if you do too close to bedtime.
2. Dim Your Lights
We want to echo the dimming light of dusk and evening inside our house as this signals bedtime to our bodies. It’s confusing to our bodies if it’s dark outside and yet all the bright lights are on inside. Darkness starts stimulates hormone secretions, particularly, melatonin which helps promote restful sleep.
I believe this is one of the reasons so many people struggle with sleep today. Nearly all of us are on the computer or watching TV in brightly lit homes right up to bedtime.
So, if you can, turn off screen time after 8 p.m. If you want to watch past nightfall, dim your screens. You can even get these stylish glasses which dim the distributive blue light.
When you get ready for night, dim all of your bedroom and bathroom lights. This will help you get in the mood even more. Better yet, use candles or the fireplace for light.
3. Sleep in Total Darkness
Again, this will help support melatonin production and aid in your sleep. You can invest in a dark blackout shade that covers all of your windows. If money is an issue, just use thick blankets. I know from experience; it’s amazing how much the darkness will improve your sleep!
You can also wear an eye mask to block out light although it’s not as effective.
True story: Griff recently wanted a night light on in his room for bedtime. Sure enough, within a few days, he started waking up at 5:30 a.m.! This is how light can disrupt sleep! Once we started going into his room and turning it off after he fell asleep, he started sleeping an hour or an hour 1/2 later. (Thank goodness!)
If you need to get up in the middle of the night for a potty break or feed the baby, turn on as little light as possible. This will make it easier to fall back asleep. (A little trick, if you can’t fall back asleep, count from 300 down to 1. Supposed to work!)
4. Think about Sound
Mike likes absolute silence when sleeping so he wears these earplugs. I like a little white noise like the outside or using a great sleep noise maker. Some people like Enya, some people like Classical, use what works for you.
5. No Stimulants After 3 p.m.
This means no coffee, soda, lattes, green/black/white tea. It even means no chocolate so have your desserts after lunch. If you’re really struggling with sleep, you may consider cutting off consumption at 1 p.m. or eliminating all together.
6. Don’t go to bed stuffed or hungry.
That’s the worst! The gnawing stomach growl will surely keep us up as will the overstuffed feeling.
While some people sleep much better with no food after 8 p.m., I personally like to have a little kefir before bed. Mike likes a bowl of cereal. Griffin likes warmed milk.
Eat or don’t eat as you feel works best for you.
7. Be consistent.
As best as you can, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Our bodies LOVE rhythms and this will help improve your sleep.
Try to create a night time routine. It works so well with babies… bath, dressed in P.J.’s, story time, and then to bed…. Same with adults.
Do a facial mask, read in bed, say prayers, whatever works for you. But by doing a little routine before bed, you’re prepping your body and mind.
8. Keep It Cool.
We generate a decent amount of heat at night so be sure to have a cooler bedroom temperature. This is especially important if you’re co-sleeping! In the summer, we like our fan running and in the winter we set our heat low. Sometimes I can STILL wake up from feeling hot but it’s few and far between.
9. See Faces in the A.M.
OK, might sound strange, but Ph.D. Seth Roberts, who suffered terrible insomnia, tested this out. He found the days he was out and about, meeting people, teaching class, etc., he slept very well at night.
The days he was home alone on the computer, he slept horrible.
He attributes this to our biology and that we used to live in tribes where social interaction was heavy in the morning.
Live alone? Or don’t see many people? Then get outside and see some faces! I even watch this video in the morning and noticed that I sleep even better!
10. Get Your Morning Light.
By exposing our eyes to natural sunlight in the morning, we strengthen our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles.
A great way to do this is to workout first thing in the morning. If that isn’t doable, try just walking around the block in the early hours.
11. Supplements That Can Help
Sometimes we need a little extra help…
Passionfruit is supposed to work great. You can either drink in tea or in capsule form.
I like using Ashwaganda Root mixed in a little water or in capsule form.
Lastly, Calm Forte by Hylands Homeopathic worked great for Mike in a season he was really struggling with sleep.
And, of course, you could try the classic warmed milk with honey.
There you have it; some tips to help you sleep better.
How about YOU? What’s worked for you? Please share with us!