It seems lately, I hear many adults complaining about their lack of sleep. They tell me it is hard for them to fall asleep and that they do not get many quality hours. My first question I always ask is how much physical activity do you get per day? Our bodies were meant to move and I truly believe the more you move the better you will sleep.
Here are my top 10 tips for getting good night’s sleep.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. It is important that you strive to go to bed at the same time each day. Your body has an internal clock and you feel your best when you have an established schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time will help your body feel energized and refreshed. If your schedule drastically varies, you will feel out of sorts during the day.
- Exercise is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Our bodies were designed to move and not be sedentary. The more you move, the more productive your sleep will become. According to John Hopkins University, a minimum of 30 minutes of sleep will improve the quality of your sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
- Turning your screens off about one hour before bed. Eliminating the light that emanates from screens will help you wind down and fall asleep. Staring at screens in bed modifies your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and negatively alters the release of melatonin, the hormone that encourages sleep. Try to avoid all screens including televisions, cell phones, and computers.
- Eat a balanced diet and know when to eat. Eating nutritious meals spaced out during the day will help you get a good night’s rest. Get to know your body and how it responds to certain foods in the evening. Certain foods may make you feel bloated or cause gastric problems. Other foods may keep you up at night. Note which foods negatively affect you. Sugary foods and heavy, carbohydrate laden foods usually make it difficult for people to fall asleep. In addition, do not go to bed hungry. If you eat dinner at 5:00 PM you may find you need a light snack around 8:00 PM to avoid hunger pains. Eating right throughout the day will help you sleep well at night.
- Make sure you drink enough fluids throughout the day to encourage good sleep. Getting the adequate amount of water throughout the day helps improve mood while helping prevent headaches, dehydration, and muscle cramps. Waking up in the middle of the night with a calf cramp is not pleasant. At the same time, drinking too much water prior to retiring can disrupt your sleep. Make sure that you are getting enough fluids throughout the day, and limit water intake right before bed.
If you practice all five tips above and you are still having a hard time sleeping, you may want to try one or more of the following:
- Try yoga before bed. Stretching the body, bringing it to a state of rest, will help relax your muscles. Harvard Health suggests that doing yoga before bed could help you unwind. In fact, more than half of those who practiced yoga felt they slept better.
- Set the mood by dimming the lights, turning down music, and turning off the TV. In the last hour before I go to bed, I need lights down, with any sounds on turned low. This helps me get a good sleep. I have found that if I do not do this, it seems like my mind stays stimulated and awake, and I have a harder time settling down.
- Enjoy a period of mindfulness to encourage a feeling of solitude. Establish a mindfulness practice to encourage a feeling of solitude prior to bed. Some find meditation helpful, or a prayer. Others enjoy reading an inspirational poem helps. Make your practice personal, a means to leave the cares of the day behind.
- Even before you begin winding down for bed, avoid movies or books that could be triggers that could arouse you too much too sleep. Be careful what you do in the evening. A scary movie may trigger bad dreams. Horror films, in particular, play on our “fight or flight” response that release stimulating hormones that will keep you awake. So, if you are going to watch scary movies or read frightening books, save it for the weekend when you don’t have to get up early the next day.
- Some of my favourite ways to relax before bed, A few other ideas that may be enjoying an herbal tea, taking a nice warm shower to relax, and or enjoying a massage.
Remember, getting a good night’s sleep is an integral part of health. We can improve our sleep by following a few simple guidelines before going to bed. For more about the importance of sleep.
MaryAnna Robbins CSEP-CPT, OFC RHEP – Group Exercise, Resistance Trainer, Yoga Fitness