Getting a good night’s sleep can be refreshing and rejuvenating. For millions, though, a good night’s sleep seems almost impossible. For a lot of women, insomnia unfortunately becomes a regular feature of menopause.
Insomnia is a condition that interrupts your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you are suffering from this it is also helpful to see your doctor. However, for many people, we don’t necessarily have insomnia, we just have trouble sleeping at times. This can be for any number of reasons from environmental factors such as the room being too hot to hormonal imbalances. If counting sheep just isn’t cutting it for you at the minute, here are 5 ways that can help improve your sleep naturally.
☕️ Ditch caffeine
The morning cup of coffee seems to be a staple beverage for many people. Me included. I do try to stick to one in the morning. However, caffeine isn’t just in coffee. It’s also hiding in cola, tea, and even some of the foods you eat. While eliminating caffeine from your diet 100% may not be possible, try to limit your consumption to the mornings only. It’s best avoided for up to 6 hours before you go to bed.
Not only does exercise help you maintain healthy body weight and better mental wellbeing but, a Sleep Foundation study found that people who exercised were less sleepy during the day and slept better at night.
A new exercise routine might have you wiped out at first, this will settle though and regular exercise will give you more energy and help you fall asleep at bedtime. This may have to do with the chemicals released by the body when you exercise. The neurotransmitters released by the brain during exercise have all sorts of beneficial properties and improved sleep is one of them.
Meditation has a restorative effect on the brain. There are all sorts of benefits that meditation can have (see this post here). The benefits of meditation include reduced stress and a better ability to cope with what life throws at you.
Meditation is also great for sleeplessness and insomnia. A Harvard study found that mindful meditation helped combat insomnia. It invokes a relaxation response in those who meditate, helping them relax enough to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. If you are not familiar with how to meditate there are tons of guided meditation apps and online videos you can use. Insight Timer app is a good place to start as it has a number of specific sleep meditations.
🛌 Sleep hygiene
These environmental things should be taken into consideration if you aren’t sleeping.
- Use the bedroom for sex and sleep only – if you do all sorts of other stuff in your bedroom such as working from home, doing the ironing etc, your brain will associate it with all these other stimulating activities and find it hard to separate.
- No electronics – leave the phone, tablet, games consoles etc downstairs. If you do use your phone/tablet as your clock, put on the do not disturb settings so you don’t get notifications.
- Keep the room dark and quiet
- Keep the room cool
- Have a good mattress – soft, firm, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s your preference, is in good condition and is comfortable
- Set your alarm clock away from your bed. This means you won’t be tempted to pick it up during the night and brings me to my next point……
⏰ Get up!
Getting up at the same time every day and avoiding naps helps your body follow a circadian rhythm which we need to sleep well at night. There are two really important elements to this step.
- STOP hitting the snooze button and train yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you hit the snooze button once or twice (or 6 times), you’re not really training yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you know you don’t need to get up until 7:30am stop setting your alarm for 7! Save yourself the 30 minutes of interrupted sleep and set the alarm for 7:30 and get up the first time it goes off. Trust me, it’s much better for you in the long run.
- NO NAPS. If you’re not used to getting up in the morning, then this could be a sitch for you. Napping can throw you off for sleeping at night because you’re just not tired enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Skip the nap (and the caffeine), and stay up so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
Now you have a few useful tidbits of information that should help you fall asleep faster at night. Remember, finding what works well for you might take some playing around. So, if you don’t get it right the first night or two don’t give up.
These sleep strategies are proven to work. They just take time. Give them a few weeks and you should be sleeping like a baby. (Although I never understood that phrase. Babies spend a lot of time awake during the night!).