Last night I managed to get six hours of sleep, which is pretty good considering most nights I’m lucky to get four hours of shuteye. Health experts recommend eight hours, but unless I’m in a drug-induced coma that’s not going to happen.
For one thing, I’m a light sleeper, so the slightest movement on my husband’s side of the bed can roust me from a deep slumber. It doesn’t help that he sounds like a cross between Darth Vader and Chewbacca when he snores either!
Sometimes I wake up thirsty so I’ll down a big glass of water and end up making several trips to the bathroom. Then there are the hot flashes (or in this case, night sweats). One moment I feel like I’m lying on a bed of coals, so I kick off my blankets to cool off. The next thing I know I’m shivering like a featherless bird. So, I hang one leg out of the covers and hope for the best. All I can say is, these sleepless nights are making me grumpy and groggy and I’m tired of being tired.
Turns out chronic sleep deprivation is a common problem for a lot of people (especially older adults) and according to Web MD it can eventually affect your health, weight, mental capacity, work performance, and safety. I’m doomed!
So, I decided to do a little research to find causes and solutions for insomnia. Here are some things we can all do to get a better night’s sleep:
Set a regular bedtime schedule. Go to bed and set your alarm at the same time every day. Dang! I guess that means no more sleeping in on weekends!
Exercise. Even though most experts don’t recommend a strenuous workout right before bed, moderate exercise up to an hour before bedtime helps relax your body and clear your head.
Power down your electronic devices. Glowing screens from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer, and TV increase brain activity, making you more alert and less likely to fall asleep. They also screw up your body’s ability to produce melatonin (the hormone that induces sleep). So, no texting, Facebooking, or watching the news in bed! Better yet, banish your mobile devices from the bedroom while you sleep.
Watch what you eat and drink. Stay away from foods that cause heartburn (e.g., tomato-based sauces) and carbs like cookies and chips (they raise your blood sugar level) in the evening. If caffeine affects your sleep, switch to decaf or don’t have any caffeine after noon. I know if I have a Diet Coke or a piece of chocolate after 1:00 p.m., I’m wired all night. Avoid alcohol a few hours before bed too. It may make you sleepy at first, but it also acts like a stimulant, causing you to wake up frequently during the night. Also, no heavy meals or binge-eating at night as it can cause indigestion. If you’re hungry, have a light snack like a small bowl of cereal with milk, a dab of peanut butter on a cracker, or a handful of almonds.
Don’t bring your troubles to bed with you. I admit I’m a worrywart and if I have something on my mind, I tend to toss and turn all night. You, too? Then you need to write down what’s bothering you before you hit the hay and deal with it the next day.
Create a relaxing environment. Block out noise with ear plugs and use shades or blinds to shut out bright lights (or wear a sleep mask). Play soft music or nature sounds to help lull you to sleep (think of it as a lullaby for grown-ups) and try meditating to reduce stress and calm your mind. Click here for meditation techniques you can use to unwind before bed.
Lower your thermostat. Per Sleep.org, the ideal room temp for optimal sleep is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and insulated too. After all, a room that’s hot and stuffy or cold and drafty is not exactly snooze-worthy.
Check your bedding. If you have trouble getting comfortable in bed or wake up with a sore neck, your pillow may be the problem. If that’s the case, I would suggest a MyPillow®. It’s amazing! Also, make sure your mattress has adequate support and isn’t too hard or soft for your back.
Try natural sleep aids like these:
Chamomile – warm herbal tea is known to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation.
Tart Cherry Juice – research shows that consuming two glasses a day helps improve the quality of your sleep.
Lavender – the scent has a soothing effect so you fall asleep faster. Make a lavender sachet and place it under your pillow.
Melatonin Supplement – I’ve tried this remedy and it seems to work for the most part, but it’s meant for short-term use. Be sure to read the label before using.
Find more natural sleep aids at everydayroots.com
Now it’s time to catch some zzzzz’s! Sweet dreams!
Smart Perks blogger Catherine B. may not get much sleep, but she does have some fascinating dreams. If only she could figure out what they mean.