So, you’ve been tossing and turning all night and you can hear the birds chirping outside (Note: this usually means daybreak, but if you’re in a city like London birds chirp at 3 am; you might want to confirm that they aren’t the reason to your insomnia).
My previous post discussed some reasons you may not be getting good quality sleep, which is so essential to maintain good energy levels so you can be ready to take on the day. Here are ten tips to helping you sleep like a baby (Another note: maybe that simile has subconsciously hindered our sleeping patterns- most babies I know don’t sleep that easily either, but you know what I mean):
1. Well first you need to turn off that standby switch. You need to understand that there are certain things in your control. Your job and life may be stressful but you can choose to tune out the attack of information from smartphones, internet and TV. Make it a habit to not have that kind of interference at least an hour before bedtime.
2. Try acupuncture to help with any pain or bodily dysfunction that could be keeping you up at night. As well as treating the problem and not just the symptoms (so that your body heals and relearns the sleep patterns again), you’ll find that you can maintain good energy levels so that you’re ready to take on the day. Acupuncture is also effective for those with insomnia that seems to stem from no specific reason when diagnosed by western medicine, but can be related to other causes in traditional Chinese medicine.
3. As tempting as it may be, try not to have siestas or naps. Power naps (under 20 minutes) are fine, but I’m talking about falling asleep at 3pm and not waking up till 5pm.
4. Don’t exercise at night. The rush of endorphins may feel great and your body is thankful that you’re being active and healthy, but it won’t help you sleep.
5. Have carbs for dinner. This may go against some of your diet plans, but carbs like pasta and potatoes (or protein like a big turkey dinner actually) make you all happy and sleepy inside. In fact look for foods with tryptophan, which converts to melatonin in the dark (so wear an eye mask as well). Melatonin is the sleepy hormone and is your friend.
6. Make sure your bed is comfortable. Buy the best quality mattress you can afford. Low back pain keeping you awake is bad, but a springy mattress digging into your sides keeping you awake is your own fault. Invest in a good pillow as well. The objective is to sleep AND wake up feeling rested, not haggard because you’ve spent all night tossing and turning.
7. A hot shower right before you jump into bed helps as well.
8. Don’t lie in bed thinking about how you can’t sleep. After 20 minutes, get up and go read something, preferably a light article about the superhero hamster rather than the latest policies from the government. The point is to get sleepy bored, not indignant bored.
9. Avoid TV. Again, this stimulates your mind and like above, you may find yourself indignant and angry at the latest reality TV contestants. However, some people do find that they need the TV on to fall asleep. In that case, have the TV on (with the timer set) to something soothing. There must be loads of inane re-runs at that time of night. I’ve been told that romantic comedies are the way to go, let me know about your preferred genre.
10. And seriously, that glass of warm milk really does help.
Remember, it’s not how much sleep you can get; it’s the quality of the sleep that matters.
Image: Paul Sapiano via Flickr
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- Sleep: Are you getting enough? | Three reasons you may not be getting enough sleep
- Are you feeling irritable and cranky? | Acupuncture isn’t just for back pain