When I have a lot on my mind and things are hectic, the quality of my sleep really diminishes. In today’s world, it seems like everyone is on-the-go and can’t get enough sleep each night…I try to get about 7 hours of sleep a night on a weekday and on the weekend, I usually sleep for about 8 hours or so.
In college, I ran on fumes with little to no sleep most nights…bad idea! After researching the importance of sleep and how it affects so many aspects of my health, I have made it a point to get more shut-eye. Not only are we recharging our batteries for the next day, sleep replenishes the body, helps to repair tissue, eases the mind, and sleep helps with weight loss.
I don’t have a recipe for you today but if you have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, here are 12 tips I came across to help achieve a better night’s rest.
12) Skip the water or fluids before bed
Guilty as charged! I don’t drink enough water throughout the day when I am busy so I try and make up for it in the evening…resulting in several runs to the bathroom during the night.
What you can do to help: It is best is to stop drinking water or fluids a couple hours before your bedtime to decrease the chances of sleep disturbances from potty breaks.
Tips: If you always have a large glass of water before bed, maybe cut the amount in half and drink more early in the evening (and throughout the day!!)
11) Keep the morning roasters for the morning
I am not a coffee drinker but I do enjoy a warm cup of hot tea, particularly when it’s chilly in the morning! I try and buy decaffeinated teas and avoid caffeine in drinks (unless we are talking about chocolate…guilty again). Caffeine is a stimulant that is produced to keep us alert and function.
What you can do to help: If you crave coffee in the afternoon, switch it up to decaf. Caffeine stays in the body for a long time, and can keep you awake long past your set time for bed if you drink it in the afternoon.
Tips: Keep your caffeine intake to the morning, and switch to decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon, or avoid caffeinated beverages all together.
Tips: Since exercise stimulates the system and gives you extra energy, avoid exercising right before sleep unless you do not want to sleep. Try to exercise in early afternoon or morning to help ensure you get a great night’s sleep
8 ) Say No, No, No….to Nicotine
Nicotine, which is commonly found in tobacco and smokeless tobacco products, has a stimulating effect on the body.
What you can do to help: If you can, take the steps to quit. That is the first and best step in helping you to avoid nicotine. If you are unable to, or do not want to, then avoid smoking or using smokeless tobacco before bed.
Tips: Remember that nicotine is a stimulant to the body. Even though the initial phase may relax you, the body is still stimulated which might make it harder to fall asleep.
Tips: Keep work and emotional conversations out of the bed and bedroom to help ease anxiety, and help you sleep more like a baby.
What you can do to help: Avoid watching TV, using your laptop for work, and leave your cellphone away from your bed.
3) Write it and Forget it
Stress throughout the day can translate to bad dreams or inhibit sleep.
What you can do to help: Keep a journal by the side of the bed so, if you do wake up for something related to the stress of life, you can write it down. This allows you to write it and forget it, allowing your body not to get overstimulated and keeping you up longer than you need to be.
Tips: Keep a pen and a notebook by the bed to jot down those ideas that you have during your sleep, so you are not constantly thinking about them.
What you can do to help: Try not to go to bed hungry by replacing high-calorie meals with smaller-calorie meals to keep your belly feeling full and satisfied.
Tips: Eat a small nutritious snack before bed to ease you into dreamland.
-Lowfat milk or cheese
-Seafood, meat or poultry
-Whole grains, such as a bowl of cereal with skim milk
-A peanut butter sandwich
-Yogurt with granola sprinkled on top (try my superfood buckwheat granola)
-A sliced apple with one ounce of cheese
1) Let the cat do the napping
Taking long naps during the day may prevent you from getting to sleep at night, or keeping you asleep throughout the night.
What you can do to help: Now there is nothing wrong with napping during the day. Taking a nap 8 hours after you wake up has been shown to be beneficial to your health. Disrupting your natural sleep cycle can be detrimental to a good night’s sleep, though. Avoid naps during the day if you can; if not, try to keep the naps to a shorter period of time. Sometimes napping is important to catch your body up and help recover from the sleep debt.
Tips: If you do need to nap, try to keep the nap to only 15 to 20 minutes to avoid disturbing your sleep at night.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. If you are unable to sleep or are still experiencing restless sleeping, make sure to follow up with your doctor to rule out any more serious health problems that you might be experiencing.
A good night’s sleep can leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to face any challenge that might come your way. Sleep can also be your little secret to the fountain of youth, helping in the anti-aging process. Incorporate these tips to help you finally catch some of those Z’s that you have been after!