How can you get a good night’s sleep? I know there’s lots of practical suggestions out there but I want to share my personal sleep remedies to get extra z’s along with my number one sleep tip!
I’m not sure exactly when my sleep-ability waned, but for most of my adult life I’ve struggled to get a good consistent eight hours of shuteye. A disrupted schedule was sometimes all it took for me to lose sleep. After much trial and error, I’ve found some tips to share with you on what I know works for me. Perhaps it will work for you too!
How to Get a Good Nights Sleep
- Keep your bedroom free of noise, light or devices. No TV.
- Room temperature is set to COOL
- Keep a consistent schedule of getting into bed at roughly the same time and getting up at the same time.
- Get in bed at nine for example, read for about an hour and then turn off light.
- Get a comfortable bed with good quality down pillows, cotton sheets and down comforter.
- Prefer a natural foam mattress to coils. Latex foam stays true to your temperature and doesn’t over heat you. Especially important after fifty!
- Set iPhone to airplane mode. I use a custom ocean/brown noise mix (White Noise app) to mask outside sounds. (Although this app is called White Noise, I believe brown noise is deeper than White and more soothing)
- Use a soft folded bandana or eye mask to cover eyes to block out light. Especially helpful in bedrooms without blackout or darkening shades.
Why You’re Not Sleeping
In stressful times, it gets harder to fall asleep naturally. When you can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep, it’s time to look at what’s causing your sleeplessness!
- Snoring – You maybe suffering from respiratory obstruction and lack of oxygen that wakes you up. If your partner snores loudly, it’s waking you up throughout the night.
- Sleep apnea – sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder related to snoring. You breath with abnormal pauses or shallow breathing depriving your body of oxygen and waking you up.
- Arthritis – The pain and discomfort of arthritis can make it difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep.
- GERD – Irritation from the heartburn of gastroesophageal reflux disease can get worse when we lay flat in bed which disturbs our sleep.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – RLS causes the uncontrollable jerking of your legs or limbs at night, leading to highly fragmented sleep.
- Hormones – As hormone levels decline as we age, our sleep is disrupted. When progesterone production is lost, so is it’s natural calming effect. Lower levels of estrogen cause moderate to severe hot flashes. Higher levels of cortisol (the flight or fight one) will keep you buzzing late at night. Low melatonin – the sleep hormone – is another culprit.
- Prescription Drugs – Sleep medications may cause rebound insomnia. Some prescription drugs also contribute to sleeplessness; steroids, Prozac, Zoloft, decongestants, beta blockers, anti convulsants, diuretics and amphetamines.
- Noise – Loud noises can wake us, from our partner snoring to loud traffic or the neighbors coming in late at night.
- Light – Street lights, car headlights and even a bright full moon can make you sleepless.
- Bed – A bed that is sagging or too firm can impact our sleep causing restlessness and tossing and turning.
- Temperature – Ideally your bedroom should be between 60-67 degrees F (15-19 C)
- Napping – Napping too long or too late will interfere with the bodies awake-rest cycle.
- Sleep-Wake homeostat – As we age, the window on our internal clock narrows between awake and sleep cycles meaning we awake earlier and have trouble falling asleep.
- Technology – Using tablets, phones or laptops in bed or close to bedtime can disrupt our melatonin production due to the blue light waves emitted. Stimulation from reading or watching news, movies or TV on a screen can also keep us awake.
- Eating drinking – Eating too late can cause indigestion and hamper solid sleep. Drinking too many fluids can cause you to get up often. Alcohol may put you to sleep, but the resulting sleep quality is poor.
- Going to bed too early – Hitting the sack before you’re tired can backfire. Unless you’re naturally tired you won’t be able to wind down.
- Bedtime routine – Without a relaxing habitual bedtime routine, our body doesn’t get the cues it needs to wind down and get ready to sleep.
- Not getting enough daytime light – Sunshine along with vitamin D, cues our brain to it’s natural circadian rhythm. Before artificial light was invented, we slept when it got dark and woke with the sun. Without exposure to early morning light, our rhythm is disrupted.
- Not enough daytime activity – Without exercise or activity during the day our bodies may not become naturally tired. To be effective, exercise at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
- Believing less than 8 hours is OK – Believing you can be healthy on less than 8 hours is false science. Sleep deprivation is a precursor to heart disease.
- Believing you’re an insomniac – If we describe ourselves as insomniacs we identify with a condition that has a negative connotation. Identifying as suffering from insomnia sends the brain a message that we can’t sleep.
- Believing you can’t change habits – If we believe we can’t change the habits or conditions that contribute to our sleeplessness then we’ve set the bar low. Without improving our habits our chances of getting a good night’s sleep are limited.
- Feeling frustrated – It’s natural to be frustrated by many sleepless nights, and not sleeping through the night leaves us feeling out of control.
- Emotions and thoughts – Although physical causes are a root cause of sleeplessness, emotions and thoughts play a huge role in our ability to relax at night. Nighttime can bring nightmares, bad dreams and anxious thoughts about the future. Unwinding after a stressful day may trigger fears about being able to sleep through the night.
Home Remedies for Good Sleep:
- A 400 mg magnesium tablet (relaxes your muscles and is good for heart health) along with a True Calm tablet an hour prior to bed. True Calm by Now is a blend of amino acids, vitamins and Valerian which supports relaxation.
- Occasionally a .5 to 1 mg melatonin one hour prior to getting into bed (your dreams may be more vivid when you take melatonin so cut back if needed). Useful if you are traveling and need a little extra help falling asleep.
- 2 or 3 of Hylands Sleep homeopathic formula tablets to get me back to sleep if I wake in the middle of the night.
- Before you turn off the lights and get ready for bed, resolve NOT to get into any discussions or thought patterns that will stay with you throughout the night.
Number One Sleep Tip
Become aware of your emotions and practice turning them off at night as part of your night time wind down routine. As you get ready to fall asleep keep your thoughts still by focusing on your breathing. If you wake up at night, do the same. Just practice breathing slowly in and out and all those worries and fears will fade away.
Use a sleep tracker journal to help you discover what’s keeping you awake!