We all have trouble falling asleep from time to time, some of us more than others. Sleeping pills may help in the short run, but they carry some unwanted side effects and are unhealthy to use every night. Thankfully there are some smart, natural ways to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
1. Avoid too much alcohol too close to bedtime. The occasional glass of wine can be relaxing, but having more than one drink every day is a recipe for disaster. It may seem like alcohol knocks you out, but the reality is it makes you sleep poorly, and you’re more likely to wake up throughout the night and not feel entirely rested when morning hits.
2. Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleeping, sex or reading. Watching television in bed is a big no-no, as is fooling around on the computer. These activities make you associate your bed with things other than sleep and make it more difficult for you to fully relax.
3. Keep your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. It’s possible for some people to sleep with lights on, but for most of us it makes things difficult. The sleep inducing hormone melatonin increases naturally with darkness and artificial light inhibits this process. Also, if you can’t stand silence when you sleep, turn on a fan or quiet, ambient music. Avoid keeping the television on as background noise.
4. Exercise. Exercise is great for regulating all kinds of body processes, including your sleep cycle. Different people react to exercise in different ways, however, so find out what’s best for you. Some people feel energized right after working out while some feel ready to head to bed. If working out energizes you make sure you work out in the morning so that you’re not too hyped up before bedtime.
5. Stretch. Unlike vigorous exercise, stretching is usually relaxing for everyone. It makes your muscles less tense and gets your body ready for slumber. This is also great for people who have backaches which make sleeping difficult.
6. Avoid naps. Sleeping too much during the day makes it that much harder to fall asleep at night. If you’re so exhausted you absolutely must take a nap make sure it’s not longer than 20 minutes. Anything longer and it can actually make you more tired.
7. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine affects everyone differently, but for most of us it’s a bad idea to have any close to bedtime. For others, it’s a bad idea to have caffeine at any time other than in the morning – it can stay in your system for a lot longer than you might realize.
8. Eat well. Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t go to bed too full, either. Heavy, high-fat foods can make it hard to get comfortable.
9. Drink tea. Obviously you want to avoid caffeinated teas, but herbal teas such as chamomile can relax you. You can also find sleep promoting teas at your local grocery store.
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.