Hadley Seward – certified sleep consultant and certified health coach

7 Tips to Get You Sleeping Again

insomniaPicture this: it’s 4am and you’re awake. No matter what you try, you cannot fall back asleep. Sound familiar? Insomnia — which includes difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and staying asleep throughout the night — is the most common sleep concern in America. An estimated 30 percent of the population is affected by insomnia, especially older adults and women. While there is no cure-all for insomnia, there are many measures to help to combat it.

Most importantly, talk to your doctor about any underlying health concerns that could affect your ability to fall or stay asleep. It’s especially important to rule out sleep apnea. Furthermore, ask whether any medications you routinely take could be interfering with your sleep.

Prioritization

Once you’ve ruled out medical issues, prioritize your sleep schedule. The human body is regulated by a circadian rhythm. This rhythm resets each morning when we awaken. It’s a cycle designed to begin around the same time every day. And, if it doesn’t, it can seriously impair your ability to sleep well at night. Bottom line: it’s best to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day (including weekends!).

Craft the Right Environment

Is your room sleep-friendly? We sleep best in cool, dark, and quiet environments. Do you live in a city or your partner snores? I suggest using HoMedics SS-2000G/F-AMZ Sound Spa Relaxation Machine with 6 Nature Sounds, Silver for white noise to mask the offending sounds. (Here’s a great article that explains how it works). If you prefer to fall asleep with activity in the background, try relaxing music. A 2005 study showed that 45 minutes of peaceful music at bedtime helped older adults to experience fewer sleep disturbances and fall asleep faster [1].

Stay Active

Be sure that you’re active during the day. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help you to fall asleep faster [2]. Yoga is particularly useful if you’re looking to improve sleep quality [3].

Chronic nappers, beware:  a midday siesta might worsen nighttime sleep difficulties. Instead, head outdoors and expose yourself to natural daylight to re-energize.

Small Tips

Do you find that you’re waking up with your head full of worries? Keep a notebook next to your bed where you make a list of everything on your mind before you go to sleep.

Another option is to try essential oils. Stephanie Jiroch, founder of Simply Chic Essentials, recommends placing a few drops of therapeutic-grade lavender oil in a diffuser or rubbing a few drops onto the soles of your feet before bedtime. “The anti-anxiety activity of lavender aromatherapy has been demonstrated in several small and medium-sized clinical trials,” says Jiroch.

Still waking up overnight? Instead of lying there for hours fretting about your inability to go back to sleep, a better strategy is to limit the tossing and turning to 20 minutes.  After that, get out of bed and engage in a quiet activity (such a reading). Once you feel more relaxed, get back into bed and try to sleep.

Meditation can also help relax your mind and keep your stress levels in check. I recommend utilizing the Muse Headband, which is a great meditation aid that helps guide you to a calm mind.

You can also try this Urban Spa Silk Eye Pillow with French Lavender for Sleeping.

Related Article: Exercise Induced Sleep Improvements

References:

[1] Lai, H.L. et al. Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2005;49(3):234-44.

[2] Browman, C. P., Sleep Following Sustained Exercise. Psychophysiology. 1980; 17: 577–580.

[3] Khalsa, S. B., Treatment of chronic insomnia with yoga: a preliminary study with sleep-wake diaries. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 2004; 29(4): 269-78.




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