Many people are struggling with sleep disorders, which might mean they fall asleep quickly but then wake up multiple times in the night, or it may mean not falling asleep easily at all. I am really very lucky to not have any sleep issues in my life. I do believe that we still can create our own luck though, by living and thinking in a healthy manner.
Of course, the environment in which we are living can also affect so much that we can not control. And unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can highly affect our mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and our body composition.
Here are some tips that might help you get a better night’s sleep.
1. Get up and go to bed at the same time each day. This can help regulate our circadian rhythm.
2. Make the bedroom conducive to sleep. The recommended bedroom temperature is around 68°F.
3. Keep electronics out of the bedroom, and don’t use them just before sleeping. It is very important to avoid television, electronic games, computers and other mobile devices right before going to bed. These devices stimulate the brain and make it much more difficult to fall asleep.
4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine four to six hours before bedtime.
5. Take a power nap for 30 minutes during the day.
6. Remove the television from the bedroom (see the reasons why below).
7. Exercise each day, but avoid doing it in the last four hours before bedtime.
8. Create a healthy bedtime ritual.
9. If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t get stressed. Get up again, rather than staying in the bed, and only go back to bed when you are actually ready to sleep.
10. Stop eating and drinking a few hours before going to bed.
I would like to share a little about my older sister’s sleep disorder. She is not getting much sleep at all. If you ask her about it then she will say that she feels OK about it, although I have observed how her behavior changes when she is not getting enough sleep. She lives in Turkey. When I was there just recently, I had a chance to experience her lifestyle. She is quite active during the day, just by doing a lot of daily house work such as cooking, and taking care of her cats (of which she has a lot!). Her husband is a fisherman, so he works at night. She always worries about him, and often when he goes out on the boat at night she will want to stay awake and wait for him to come home. While she is waiting, she’ll watch TV or surf the internet. And of course, while doing so she has a habit to snack at the same time.
I think she would not be able to apply all of the suggestions here to improve her sleep. Although, she definitely could change a few of them. For example, she could remove the TV, cell phone, and computer from her bedroom. And she could avoid keeping any food in the bedroom. And, if she does need to be awake for so long at night then she could take a nap during the day.
TVs, computers and other devices emit blue light, which can inhibit melatonin production and keep us awake, so removing them from the bedroom is a fundamental first step. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is controlled by light exposure and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Our brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making us sleep, and it secretes less when it is light, which cam make us more alert. When blue light hits the retina, a signal is sent to the hypothalamus, and melatonin production is turned off and delayed by several hours. This results in an inability to fall asleep and trouble in waking up, as melatonin levels are inappropriately elevated in the morning.
Not consuming any food late at night is another important step, as digestion can increase the body temperature. Anyone with digestive problems, such as heartburn or acid reflux, is also most likely to have an attack when they they lie down so soon after eating.
And finally for my sister, taking a nap during the day would be beneficial. I think for her a power nap, of no more than 30 minutes and not after 4 p.m., would be ideal, as naps will decrease the brain’s drive for sleep that night.
I think these tips would help her, and would also be realistic goals that she can really apply to her life to help her improve the quality of her sleep.
And I hope that this story may show you something beneficial that you can apply in your life too.
Ayda Erso, Nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.), Master Trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro), Registered Yoga Teacher, Founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness, Founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.