Many patients suffer from not being able to fall asleep, waking up too early, or waking multiple times in the night etc. There are multiple solutions to help yourself get a more restful night of sleep and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.
- Limit Caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime: If you truly suffer from insomnia, it is best to avoid caffeine(coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, etc.) after lunchtime. Oftentimes, insomnia can create a negative cycle of needing caffeine to stay awake but that same caffeine makes you unable to sleep at night. Avoid the vicious cycle by cutting out caffeine as much as possible.
- Avoid Alcohol use 3-4 hours before going to sleep: Alcohol generates heat which disturbs sleep. Even though it relaxes you, it also creates heat which is not conducive for sleeping.
- Avoid eating too much at dinner and eating late at night: When you are sleeping, the blood should be nourishing the brain making it calm and relaxed. If you eat too much or too close to bedtime, your blood will still be supporting your digestive system which makes it harder to fall asleep. It is also easier to gain weight by eating too much or too late in the day since your metabolism slows after 4 pm.
- If you do need to eat at night, make sure it’s easy to digest: To elaborate on the above, stick with foods that are easier to digest i.e those low in oil or fat and small in portion.
- Keep a quiet, dark, and cool environment in your bedroom: Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to fall asleep in the winter? Well, that’s because of the combination of the dark and cool environment that winter naturally brings. To achieve this same effect in warmer weather, set your thermostat to a colder temperature and pull blinds over the windows until you can barely see your fingers!
- Exercise earlier in the day, if you must exercise at night try yoga or stretching instead: Try doing your cardiovascular and strength training exercises earlier in the day. In fact, doing cardio and strength training in the morning right after you wake up will naturally stimulate you without the use of caffeine. If you lead a busy life and must exercise later in the day, try Yoga or stretching before bed since both will calm you down.
- Leave electronics in another room before sleeping: In this day and age, it feels like we go to sleep with our phone and wake up with it in our hands. Well, the blue light that electronics emit at bedtime is not conducive for sleeping so turn off devices and place it in a different room to get a restful night of sleep. All emails, text messages, and social media can wait until the next day! Note, this also includes TVs.
Next time we will continue with six other ways to help yourself get a better night of sleep in Part II of this article.