Updated: Jan 25
Do you ever have difficulty falling asleep at night? This is something that I struggle with periodically, and it is usually when I have a big event coming up the next day. I hear from many of my clients that a lack of sleep is quite common for them throughout the week. I hear many complaints such as, “my mind won't shut off, I'm restless, and I keep waking up in the middle of the night.”
Some signs of poor sleep include fatigue throughout the day, memory issues, slow response times, and mood changes. If you have difficulty sleeping throughout the week, I recommend that you speak to your primary care provider to rule out medical issues, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, as well as other health issues.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
Many of us practice poor sleep hygiene, which usually leads to less energy, irritability, and bigger health problems. If you have ever stayed up late to watch a movie, finish playing a game, or pulled an all-nighter, then my friend you have practiced poor sleep hygiene. If you ate a full meal late into the evening, worked out right before bedtime, or on your phone late night, yep that too is poor sleep hygiene. But don't worry, I have a few tips that you can put into practice to help you improve your sleep.
Let's Discuss Creating a Night Time Routine
Before getting into several tips for better sleep, I'm going to encourage you to develop a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine is a set of activities that calm your body and mind to prepare for a better night's rest. This routine can start 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. The activities that you choose to place in your night time routine should be completed in the same order each night. I suggest screens off at this time, no phone, tv, or tablet. The light from technology devices stimulates the mind and prevents the release of the melatonin hormone, also known as the "sleep hormone". According to The Sleep Health Foundation, melatonin is blocked after 1.5 hours of using tech in the evening.
Your nighttime routine can include various activities such as doing light yoga, taking a warm bath, rubbing a soothing lotion to moisturize your skin and drinking chamomile tea. It can consist of reading a book, playing smooth jazz and lighting a candle. Come up with a routine that you believe is suitable for you, play around with it for a week or two, and then review it once again. You may discover you have too many activities in your nighttime routine that you feel are overwhelming, or you may find some activities are better done during the day instead of at night. Have fun discovering activities that you enjoy until you have the perfect customization of activities that work for you.
Healthy Sleep Tips
Now here are some quick tips that may improve your sleep at Night.
Set a sleep schedule that you keep every day of the week, including your off days. If you're going to sleep in make sure you don't sleep more that an extra hour.
No more naps. If you are taking naps during the day of course you are going to have issues sleeping at night. It may be a difficult transition at first but no naps during the day are going to be worth the sleep at night. If you insist on having a nap make sure you only take one a day and make it 30 minutes or less. If you are sleeping more than 30 minutes, it is no longer considered a nap.
Avoid certain drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. It has been reported that caffeine can stay in your body for up to 12 hours. I would say if you are going to use learn to decrease the amount of use as well as stop using 2-4 hours before bedtime, the earlier the better.
While we are discussing quitting early, make sure to avoid strenuous activities, heavy workouts, and eating 2 hours before bedtime. Eat a light snack such as grapes or toast if you need to eat. Also stemmed milk or a warm noncaffeinated drink can be beneficial in soothing the body.
Your bedroom should only be used for sleep and sex. If you complete additional tasks in your bedroom make sure to keep these tasks off of the bed. Maybe fit a desk or chair in the room, but again STAY OUT OF BED. Your mind should associate your bed with sleep.
Keep your room at a stable temperature. Research suggests that the bedroom temperature should be set to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I do understand this may be too hot for some and too cold for others so I suggest finding a comforting temp that works for you. According to scientists, the temperature should be within the range of 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep all light sources outside of the room. Get black-out curtains, turn the tv off, and possibly charge your phone outside of the room. If you are a person that needs a little light it may be cracking your door and having the hallway light on. If you have a partner that needs a light or gets up at a different time than you, consider wearing an eye mask and also possibly e to bed so that your sleep isn't disturbed.
If you have laid down in bed and have not slept within 15-20 minutes, get up and out of bed, don't try to force sleep. Continue your night with another calming activity. This may be reading an article, working in a coloring book, utilizing aromatherapy, or gazing out a window.
Want to know if your sleep routine is effective? I encourage you to keep a sleep journal. Track the number of hours you slept at night, if the sleep was interrupted and how many times it was interrupted. You can take notes of what may have caused the interruption in your sleep cycle, and how long it takes you to fall back asleep. You may want to even track how your sleep impacts the day after by checking your energy level for that day, whether were you able to focus more and if you noticed any improvements in memory.