It’s estimated that 164 million Americans have problems with sleeping. That’s around 65% of the country’s population!
With the rise of screen time and workloads over the past decade, more Americans are developing sleep disorders than ever before.
On top of that, sleeping medications can have some dangerous side effects, can be addictive, and may not be worth taking at all.
As someone who came from working the night shift, I was a sort of “sleep cycle nightmare”.
Slowly I transitioned back to normal daytime hours, but that’s simply not possible for everyone. (I’m talking to you nurses, bartenders, police, and entertainers!)
So what are we to do? Well, as a certified Health and Wellness Coach, I will be sharing 10 holistic tips that I’ve used when learning how to sleep better. I hope they can help you too!
Stick to a Schedule
One of the most effective things that I did when I was learning how to sleep better was sticking to a schedule.
For years I worked the night shift, and would always go to sleep somewhere between 4-9AM!
I noticed about a year into working at night that I didn’t feel as good as I used to. I gained weight, had less energy, and was the furthest thing from sticking to a schedule.
After an additional year of slowly adjusting back to daytime hours, my internal clock has finally reset. Now, I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 9AM every day, even on weekends.
By doing this I now wake up with much more energy, and have an easier time going to sleep and waking up.
No TV in The Bedroom
A TV in the bedroom is a bad idea for a few reasons.
In general, having a TV in the bedroom makes people stay up later than they should, which cuts into their 8-hour sleep window. In addition, TV’s, like other electronics, emit blue light, which is the same light that the sun gives off.
Our brain fights sleep when it sees blue light because it tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. If you’re someone who uses a lot of screen time at night, I suggest getting these blue light glasses from Amazon.
I started using them more at night (especially after writing a blog post) and have found that I fall asleep much faster after wearing them.
You may not think about it, but the feeling of our spaces around us reflect back into our minds and emotions.
When you walk into your bedroom and see clutter all over the floor and laundry covering the furniture, of course you’re going to feel stressed!
Try your best to make this room the priority solely for your peace of mind at night. I say the less stuff you have in your bedroom, the more peaceful it will be.
Lastly, don’t forget to make your bed every morning! Not only is it one of my tips for having a productive day, it’s also so much nicer walking into your bedroom to a nice, clean, clutter free bed.
Dark & Quiet
Just like the TV, you should try to remove any other distractions when learning how to sleep better.
If you like background noise, there are many different apps that play a variety of white noises that help ease you into sleep.
If your room always seems to have light coming in, I recommend getting black out window film for your window like I did. This product is critical for those who work at night.
I’ll never forget the struggle of finally getting into bed, only to have birds chirping and the sun shining into my face. The window film is super easy to apply. I did it in about 20 mins with a pair of scissors and a credit card to smooth out the bubbles.
Now my bedroom is pitch black, even in the middle of the day!
Ditch the Caffeine
This one should be obvious, but is also important for night workers.
Caffeine has a half life of 5 hours. A half life is the time it takes for half of a drug to leave your system.
This means after 5 hours of drinking a cup of coffee, you still have half of the caffeine running through your system.
So if you have a cup of coffee at noon, you can still have caffeine in your system at 8 or 9PM, depending on how fast your metabolism is.
Try switching to tea instead. Your body will thank you!
I believe that people should avoid alcohol at all costs, but most people enjoy a drink every now and then.
If you want to know how to sleep better, avoid those evening drinks. For generations many of us have taken “nightcaps” which basically one drink to make you start feeling tired.
Though it can make you tired and fall asleep, your body’s REM sleep cycle will not perform as efficiently with alcohol in your system.
Because of the lack of REM sleep, you are likely to feel restless and groggy the next day.
Instead of a drink before bed, make yourself a nice hot cup of non-caffeinated tea. Lavender tea is my favorite for bedtime, as lavender promotes relaxation and reduces insomnia.
Daily Exposure to Sun
If you want to sleep better, make sure to get at least 20 mins of sunlight daily.
Sunlight releases the happy hormone serotonin in the body, making you calm and focused.
As it starts getting darker, your body naturally will produce melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for sleep.
For people who work at night, this hormonal cycle is disturbed. So if you do work at night, make sure to spend some extra time in the sun daily before your shift so you can sleep better when your shift is over.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Do you have nights where you’re trying your best to fall asleep, but your mind is running a marathon?
For a long time, racing thoughts at night were a problem for me. My brain would come up with random events from a decade ago and think about different ways I could’ve changed things.
The only way I fixed racing thoughts at night was to take a few minutes each evening to write down my thoughts.
I’ve found that once I write down the issues that are really bothering me, my brain stops the rabbit hole effect of thinking about other unrelated issues.
Get a Massage, Stretch, or Have Sex
If you have a significant other, getting a massage and having sex are both great ways to relax after a long day. Both practices release unneeded tension in the muscles and force you to relax.
Stretching is also something I do every night before sleeping to prevent muscle stiffness and back pain the next day.
I’m not saying that you should do a whole yoga routine before bed, but some basic leg and back stretches are perfect for relaxation.
See a Sleep Doctor
If you’ve tried everything on this list and you’re still not getting the rest you need at night, it may be time to visit a sleep doctor.
Your doctor will be able to properly diagnose your problem and will have the tools you need to fix it.
Sleep Apnea is one disorder where a person’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout the night. Though mostly common in older men, it can happen to anyone, and if not taken care of can be potentially life threatening.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up gasping for air, feeling tired after a full night of sleep, and morning migraines.
Other common sleep problems include narcolepsy, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome.
Do you have problems with sleep? What are your tricks for falling asleep? Let me know in the comments!
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