Are you one who easily gets to sleep, but then you wake up at some point and cannot get back to sleep? Or do you struggle to fall asleep, staying awake late into the night?
We take sleep for granted, assuming it will just happen… until it doesn’t. The frustration of feeling tired more often than energetic is a growing problem that requires attention beyond medication. If you are ready to transform sleep then consider implementing the following four steps.
1. Create a dark sleeping space. Add room darkening curtains and remove any visible light from clocks or electronics. You might also consider adding smart technology with LEDs for your bedside lamp that transition from energizing white light in the morning to calming, subdued orange light before bedtime.
2. Establish a bedtime routine. At least 30 minutes or more before sleeping, turn off all electronic devices: computer, TV, e-readers (Kindle, Nook or other), cell phone or any other device you use to “fall asleep” — the blue light emitted from each of these is actually stimulating brain waves to keep active. Even if you fall asleep, your brain activity does not support a sound sleep, only a restless one. Turn it all off; anything truly important will be there tomorrow when you have more energy to be more efficient.
3. Drink water. Optimal hydration is required for you body to help you sleep soundly! Fatigue, headache, and food cravings are often a signal of dehydration, so drink more water. However, the water your body requires needs to be ingested during the activity of your day. Stop drinking any water or other beverage at least 1 hour before sleeping. Do not keep a glass of water available to drink during the night. When you drink anything before bed or during the night you give your body permission to wake you up to use the bathroom. Create a water intake habit that is met during waking hours. Aim to drink a minimum of 60+ ounces of water daily, or up to half your total body weight in ounces.
4. Eat more vegetables. Nutrition is a primary tool for getting your body to sleep more soundly. Too much sugar and caffeine during the day depletes nutritional reserves needed for digestive activity while you sleep. Your body needs more plant-based foods that are fiber and antioxidant rich. These critical nutrients support your physical body to optimize your body’s metabolism. All the colors of vegetables support digestive processes that reduce inflammation, improve nutrient absorption, and deliver more hours of restful sleep, greater energy during your waking hours. Eat a minimum of 4 fist-sized servings of vegetables daily.
5. Practice gratitude, mindfulness. Underneath all of these previous suggestions is to teach your body to let go of accumulated stress. Consider breathing techniques or practice mindfulness options as a way to train your mind to embrace a still point for helping you to relax muscle and quiet unrelenting energy related to thinking or worrying. There are true emergencies (or small children) that need attention regardless of sleep, but many of the stressors we reflect on are chronic issues, accumulating tension. They will be there tomorrow – let yourself sleep tonight. Pray, breathe deep and slow, create thoughts of gratitude, sleep.
Commit to do these steps for 6 weeks by making just one change each week. Chart the hours you sleep each night and a create a total at the end of each week. Observe how your body responds to slow and steady changes. The key to these steps is to add each one as a daily habit. Transforming restless or interrupted sleep into sound sleep requires you to reframe existing habits. The profound benefit is a more energized, happy life.
If sleep is still elusive after 6 weeks of making changes, you may need the support of a nutritionist to evaluate any nutritional deficiency, dig a little deeper into your unique physiology or add supplemental support to reduce other factors known to interfere with sleep. I am here to support you.