Trouble falling asleep is frustrating. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30% of the American population does not get the 7-9 hours of recommended sleep. The CDC noted that most adults suffer from chronic lack of sleep, which is attributed to increased public health concerns of depression, hypertension, and diabetes.
Sleep is an essential part of our lives and falling asleep should not be a stressor. If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, follow these tips to help you wind down and relax before bed.
Lawrence Epstein a chief medical officer of Sleep Health Centre and a lecturer in medicine at Harvard University stresses the importance of having a good sleep environment. He insisted that your sleep environment should be dark, quiet and with optimal temperature. For most of human history, we are exposed to sunlight during the day and darkness or orange hues from the moon and stars during the night. At night, the human pineal glands secrete melatonin, a vital hormone for regulating cortisol and body temperatures. Sleeping in a bright room interrupts the production of melatonin hence interrupting your sleep pattern.
For a good night’s sleep, always ensure that your room temperature is optimal (neither too cold nor too hot). Body temperatures naturally cool during sleep and this occurs when your room bedroom is at a certain temperature. Medics usually recommend optimal bedroom temperature of 62-86 degrees with comfortable bedding and pajama. A quiet room adds to a good sleeping environment. Most people use sound machines to block out noises and help them sleep. The sleep Genius App and Sound System provide the correct frequencies that will not impair cortisol and help the brain rest peacefully.
One of the major reasons why people struggle falling asleep is due to the events of a past day or things they need to do the following day. Anxieties are meant to motivate us to complete certain tasks and get things done. Productive worry can be solved if necessary steps are taken. However, lying in bed stressing over the same thing is unhealthy as it deprives you sleep.
Shortly before bedtime, preferably one hour before, get a piece of paper where you write down all your worries and concerns in order of priorities. At the back of the paper, deduce a solution for all your worries and concerns. It might not be the final solution to the problem but it will be the next available step towards solving it permanently. In instances where there no viable solutions, accept the situation as this will help reduce anxiety and help you fall asleep.
Creating a sleep ritual to follow before going to bed can help you fall asleep quickly. A study conducted by Bettersleepbetterlife shows that human beings are habitual creatures and as such, the very act of doing things before going to bed will make you tired and ready for the night. Such rituals can include taking a warm bath before bedtime. A drop in body temperature after a warm bath may help you fall asleep as soon as you get to bed. You can enhance your bath with aromatherapy products with calming properties to help calm down your mind.
Certain foods and drinks can promote your sleep pattern and help you have quality sleep. Food rich in the amino acid referred to as tryptophan enhance sleep. The amino acid is found in milk, dairy products, soy products, whole grains, and poultry. Consuming these foods before going to bed helps your body produce serotonin hormones naturally hence allowing you to relax and fall asleep without struggling. Decaf drinks before bedtime for beverage addicts are essential as they help calm your brain hence enhance quality sleep. Such decaf beverages include herbal teas and seltzer.
One easy way of calming your mind and relaxing before bed is keeping away electronic gadgets for at least one hour before bedtime. Electronic devices (phones, tablets, computers, and TVs) emit a blue light that suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Besides hindering melatonin, these devices keep your mind engaged and trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake.
After spending an entire day buried in technology, keep away the devices and instead result in reading a book.
This helps to calm down the brain and as such fall asleep gradually. It is crucial to make your bedroom a technology-free zone in order to enhance sleep. If you are to get any gadgets to your bedroom, ensure they are in the silent mode to reduce distractions from notification alerts after falling asleep.
Mental exercises before retiring to bed force your brain away from the thoughts and worries in your life. Lying in bed with an overactive mind teaches your body that the bed is a place to continue working rather than relaxing and sleeping. Creating mental imageries such as listing your favorite cars or visualizing objects with certain shapes and colors helps the mind to relax and slowly sink into sleep. Stephen Guise, a life coach on Mind Body Green provides a simple breathing exercise as you visualize before bed. The exercise calms the mind by releasing tension and helping you gain full concentration over the mental imageries.
Yoga is a great way to unwind before retiring to bed. It helps you calm down your body and mind putting you in a better position for a good night’s restful slumber. Concluding your routine yoga practice with meditation prepares your body and mind for bedtime and hence a defense mechanism against insomnia.
Follow these 5 tips on a daily basis will ensure that you get quality sleep that will enhance productivity and reduce your risk exposures to major lifestyle illnesses.