By Justine Haarberg
It’s the end of another long day. You go through your bedtime routine, get in bed, close your eyes and are ready for a good night’s rest. However, 45 minutes after you’ve gotten in bed and you keep tossing and turning. Sound familiar? The cause of this issue is not necessarily sleep insomnia. If you are not satisfied with the amount of sleep you get each night, try these “sleep remedies” in order to get the sleep that you need in your busy life.
- Listen to Your Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural sleep and wake cycle. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s basically a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. By sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, your body’s circadian rhythm will set and it will be easier to go to sleep at night. Along with going to sleep and getting up around the same time everyday, you also want to be careful about taking naps and avoid sleeping in (even on weekends!) Although naps are great for catching up on sleep, they can end up harming your sleep schedule instead of fixing it. You also want to fight that post-dinner drowsiness that hits you a couple hours before you go to bed by doing something lightly stimulating such as doing chores or walking the dog. If you continue doing the same thing before bed everyday, your body will recognize it and start to prepare for sleep.
- Increase Your Exposure to Natural Light
Light exposure controls melatonin, a hormone that helps balance your sleep-wake cycle. When it’s dark, your brain secretes more melatonin, making you more sleepy, and when it’s light, your brain secretes less melatonin, making you more alert. Therefore, a dark room will make it easier to sleep at night. Throughout the day, try to expose yourself to as much natural light as possible and at night try to stay away from electronics about 1-2 hours before you go to bed.
Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. The more vigorous the exercise, the greater effect on your sleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms.
- Watch What You Eat/ Drink
Cutting back on caffeine and sugar may benefit how well you sleep. Caffeine can affect your sleep even if you drank it 10-12 hours ago, and eating sugar can trigger wakefulness. You also want to take into account when you eat, not just what. In addition to not consuming sugar or caffeine, don’t eat large meals or drink lots of fluids right before bed.
- Relax and Clear Your Mind
Trouble with sleeping may simply because of everything on your mind. Some ways to clear your mind are reading, listening to a podcast or guided sleep meditation, focusing on positive memories, or visualizing a calming scene.
- Use Your Bed Only for Sleeping
Your brain will start to associate your bed with sleep if you only use it for sleep. Do your work, watch TV, and surf the internet in some place other than your bed. Once you get into bed, make sure you are going to sleep or doing something to wind-down such as reading.
- Control Your Bedroom Temperature
In general, people tend to sleep best in a cool room- around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s up to you how warm or cool you prefer your room, but having a cooler bedroom can help your body decrease its temperature to initiate sleep.