I’m going to tell you a secret: I don’t sleep great.
I know I am supposed to have all the health things figured out, but alas, I am merely human.
I am not certain that I have ever been a great sleeper. I have always been a self-proclaimed princess and the pea- needing the perfect conditions to sleep through the night. But even in my pitch dark, cool bedroom, with my well-timed withdrawal from screens and dimmed evening lights, restful sleep eludes me.
Sometimes I am a restless sleeper. I toss and turn and clench my jaw. Other times I wake often and sometimes can’t get back to sleep, or I sleep too lightly. I can wake up too early, well before my alarm goes off, and seem ready to start my day in the wee hours before the sun is even thinking about rising.
But the nice thing about my particular sleeping issues is that I am still getting between 6-8 hours a night and, luckily, it does not affect my day. I work at it and know there are some strategies that I could improve upon. I am a work in progress!
Here are some tricks that I have learned to help me get better sleep and to cope better when my sleep is sub par:
Darkness is your friend
Make your room dark. I mean really dark. Like if you can see your hand in front of your face it is too light in your room. Cover your windows with black out blinds, put a piece of electrical tape over all those ambient lights from your electronics, smoke detectors, and either flip your digital clock upside down or remove it from your room all together.
Or, you can wear an eye mask.
Avoid screens, bright lights, and bright overhead lights at night. All bright lights can affect your circadian rhythm. As it gets dark outside, you should mimic the fading light indoors. This signals your brain that sleep is supposed to happen soon. Use only the amount of artificial light needed that you can safely navigate around your space.
Use Light Strategically
Exposing your eyes to light during the day is just as important as dark at night when training your circadian rhythms. To signal your brain that it is daytime, go outside within 60 minutes of waking up in the morning, and again in the late afternoon.
If you are up before the sun, you can turn on your overhead lights and go outside as soon as the sun comes up. Stay outside for 10-20 minutes if the sun is bright and longer, up to 60 minutes, if there is significant cloud coverage. Don’t wear a hat or sunglasses, as this blocks the signals to the brain that it is daytime, but don’t look directly at the sun (of course!)
Listen to Your Body
Go to bed when you are tired! There have been many times in my life where I am tired and could go to sleep but “push through” the fatigue so I can stay up later. But guess what? I NEVER sleep well when I do that. When you feel tired, go to sleep. Pushing past your natural sleepy time is one of the reasons for middle of the night wakings.
Wake up at the same time every morning. This helps your brain establish routine.
Use Substances Judiciously
Caffeine affects you more than you think. Avoid caffeine 8-10 hours before your bedtime. For some of you, 12-14 hours may work even better.
Alcohol and also sleep medications (yes, sleep medications) also disturb your sleep. If you are not a good sleeper, avoid these.
Try Supplements Before Bed
There are SO many supplements that can be helpful for sleep. Finding the one, or more, that work best for you is going to be trial and error. I recommend starting with one and taking it every night for a week before adding in another. Some do best with just one, while others need a combination of the ones below (or something different).
Magnesium bisglycinate 200mg
Herbs- passionflower, chamomile, valerian root, etc. LipoCalm is a great combination
Call me today to schedule your appointment and get you sleeping better, feeling better, and improving your overall health.
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