Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone, it is one of the most common problems people have. Getting enough sleep is a fundamental need for humans in order to live a healthy life and sleep deprivation can contribute to many chronic health problems, physically and mentally. Worse still is that a lack of sleep causes us to feel terrible the next day.
Below are a few ideas that you can try to implement to improve your ability to get to sleep at night. These won’t work for everyone but trying these will not hurt and will hopefully help you feel more rested each day:
90 Minute sleep cycles
When we sleep we go through various stages from lighter to deeper sleep and back again. These cycles occur over a 90 minute cycle. If we are woken during the middle of one of these cycles we will generally feel much more tired than if we are woken up at the end of the cycle. This is why we feel worse when we wake up early then go to sleep for another 40 minutes before being woken by an alarm clock. With this in mind, if you wake up naturally earlier than your alarm consider just staying awake unless you have an extra 90 minutes to sleep.
Keep naps short or not at all
If you are napping throughout the day try and avoid it where possible. If you really have a need to nap try to set an alarm for 20-30minutes. If you nap any longer than this it can cause you to wake up feeling drowsy and make it more difficult to sleep at night. Also nap earlier in the day and try to avoid doing it within a few hours of when you will be sleeping.
Don’t exercise too late in the day
If you can only exercise later in the day then continue to do so. If you can change to earlier in the day you may find it helps you to sleep better. This will mostly be due to very intense exercise, so a walk after dinner shouldn't really affect you but think twice before doing a 2 hour weights session late in the evening if you struggle to sleep.
Humans have a circadian rhythm which is affected by exposure to the sun. When waking up in the morning ensure you are exposed to sunlight as soon as possible. If you work in an office, try to go outside during the day to expose yourself to more light. At night, we want the opposite to occur. As much as possible, turn off lights in your house and ensure that your bedroom is completely free of light. Any form of light at night can disrupt hormones in your body that help you sleep.
If you wake up before the sun rises, you can even get alarm clocks that will emit light gradually before your set wake up time. If you set your alarm for 530, at 5 the alarm clock will start to gradually get brighter so by 530 you can wake up with the light. I do not like to endorse any particular products but you can search for these and look for the best one.
If you can’t sleep don’t stay in bed
If you are struggling to get to sleep, get up and do an activity like reading or writing down your thoughts that are keeping you from sleeping. Staying in bed and not sleeping can often make us more frustrated and actually make it harder to get to sleep. Once you have done something else and feel truly tired then you can go back to bed to try and sleep. Keeping a notepad to write with can help as many people struggle with thinking of too many things which prevents them from sleeping.
I generally do not recommend people buy many supplements but for sleep magnesium supplements can be very helpful. Look for magnesium citrate and avoid magnesium oxide, you can find details on the pill bottle. Take 1 or 2 of these tablets an hour before bed and they can assist in relaxing your muscles and getting you to sleep. You can also have a bath with Epsom salts mixed in. Epsom salts are also magnesium and this can be absorbed through the skin relaxing your muscles to help you sleep better.
These are just a few things that you can try in order to get better sleep. I will post again later in the week with a part 2 that will have a few more ways to ensure good sleep. I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.
Thanks for reading!