If you are having sleep problems, whether you are not able to fall
asleep, wake up too often, don't feel well-rested when you wake up in
the morning, or simply want to improve the quality and quantity of your
sleep, try as many of the following techniques below as possible:
Listen to white noise or relaxation CDs. Some people find the
sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to
be soothing for sleep.
Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This
will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops
too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back
Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. If there
is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your
circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and
seratonin. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as
possible if you get up in the middle of the night. Please whatever you
do, keep the light off when you go to the bathroom at night. As soon as
you turn on that light you will for that night immediately cease all
production of the important sleep aid melatonin. To completely block all light, try a Sleep Mask - See our large selection listed below.
No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the
bedroom or even out of the house, completely. It is too stimulating to
the brain and it will take longer to fall asleep. Also disruptive of
pineal gland function for the same reason as above.
Wear socks to bed. Due to the fact that they have the poorest
circulation, the feet often feel cold before the rest of the body. A
study has shown that this reduces night wakings.
Read something spiritual or religious. This will help to
relax. Don't read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense
novel, as this may have the opposite effect. In addition, if you are
really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might wind up unintentionally
reading for hours, instead of going to sleep.
Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on the
body to be awoken suddenly. If you are regularly getting enough sleep,
they should be unnecessary.
Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it
might be helpful keep a journal and write down your thoughts before
Melatonin and its precursors. If behavioral changes do not
work, it may be possible to improve sleep by supplementing with the
hormone melatonin. However, I would exercise extreme caution in using
it, and only as a last resort, as it is a powerful hormone. Ideally it
is best to increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight
in the daytime (along with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the
winter) and absolute complete darkness at night. One should get
blackout drapes so no light is coming in from the outside. One can also
use one of melatonin's precursors, L-tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan
(5-HTP). L-tryptophan is the safest and my preference, but must be
obtained by prescription only. However, don't be afraid or intimidated
by its prescription status. It is just a simple amino acid.
Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly
the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during
the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps
toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up
into the liver which then secondarily back up into your entire system
and cause further disruption of your health. Prior to the widespread
use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as
most animals do, and which nature intended for humans as well.
Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These
can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and
seratonin, and may have other negative effects as well. Alarm clocks and other electrical devices.
If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from the bed as
possible, preferably at least 3 feet. One doctor even recommends that
people pull their
circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in the house (Dr. Herbert
Ross, author of "Sleep Disorders").
Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
Many people keep their homes and particularly the upstairs bedrooms too
hot. Plus, lowering the thermostat at night saves on utility bills.
Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.
Also eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.
Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many medications,
both prescription and over-the-counter may have effects on sleep.
Avoid caffeine. A recent study showed that in some people,
caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and therefore they can feel the
effects long after consuming it. So an afternoon cup of coffee (or even
tea) will keep some people from falling asleep. Also, some medications,
particularly diet pills contain caffeine.
Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the
effect is short lived and people will often wake up several hours
later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from
falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of
Lose weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of sleep apnea, which will prevent a restful nights sleep.
Avoid foods that you may be sensitive to. This is
particularly true for dairy and wheat products, as they may have effect
on sleep, such as causing apnea, excess congestion, gastrointestinal
upset, and gas, among others.
Don't drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom or at least minimize the frequency.
Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating sleep,
Remove the clock from view. It will only add to your worry when constantly staring at it... 2 a.m. ...3 a.m. ... 4:30 a.m. ...
Keep your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or
doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and to think of the
bed as a place to sleep.
If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician. The hormonal changes at this time may cause problems if not properly addressed.
Don't change your bedtime. You should go to bed, and wake up,
at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your
body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and
get up in the morning.
Make certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes everyday can help you fall asleep. However,
don't exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Studies
show exercising in the morning is the best if you can do it.
Establish a bedtime routine.
This could include meditation, deep breathing, using Aromatherapy or
Essential Oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is
something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to
help you release the day's tensions.
Go to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the chances that you'll wake up to go in the middle of the night.
Wear an eye mask to block out light.
As said above, it is very important to sleep in as close to complete
darkness as possible. That said, it's not always easy to block out
every stream of light using curtains, blinds or drapes, particularly if
you live in an urban area (or if your spouse has a different schedule
than you do). In these cases, an eye mask can help to block out the
Put your work away at least one hour (but preferably two or more) before bed.
This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep
feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow's deadlines.