Insomnia: 8 Lifestyle Strategies for Better Sleep
Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night's sleep. Whether it’s stress about work or finances, illnesses, hormonal imbalances or just plain insomnia, when you can’t sleep, the repercussions are more serious than just feeling drowsy the next day.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that a lapse in adequate sleep time (at least 7-8 hours per night) can lead to a decreased attention span, depressed feelings and difficulty processing ideas. (1) Sleep problems can also lead to increased weight gain and increase your chances of getting sick.
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that nearly 30% of Americans experience some form of sleep disruption during the night. In fact, one in five people have suffered from insomnia at some point in their lives. Insomnia has been defined as difficulty sleeping that occurs at least three times per week for at least a month. If you, or your loved ones, aren’t getting a full night’s sleep, you may be suffering from insomnia.
While you might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. In this article, you will discover the top 8 lifestyle strategies for better sleep.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.
As your body becomes used to getting into bed and waking up at the same hours, you’ll find it becomes easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven to hours.
2. Set the right temperature in your room
Your body’s temperature decreases during sleep, and a cool, but not cold, room will help you settle into and maintain sleep throughout the night.
Your body’s internal temperature shifts during a 24-hour period. Your body begins to shed warmth right about the time you go to bed and continues to cool down until reaching its low point near daybreak, at around 5 a.m.
Your body cools by expanding the blood vessels in your skin. When your temperature starts to drop at night, you may notice that your hands and feet get warmer initially. This is because your body is letting heat escape through them to reduce your core temperature.
If the temperature in your sleeping environment is too hot or cold, it may affect the drop in your body’s internal temperature and cause you to have disrupted sleep.
A slightly chilly temperature (near 65°F- 67°F) helps decrease your body’s internal thermometer, initiating sleepiness and ensuring that you stay comfortable throughout the night. But it is not as simple as turning the Air Conditioning on. If you have your AC but still use a blanket, you may find yourself covering and uncovering the entire night and disrupting your sleep. With chiliBLANKET, chiliPad or OOLER sleep systems you can customize the temperature of your bed, putting restful sleep within reach. Sleeping cooler helps you fall asleep up to 98% faster, replenish your immune systems, increase your metabolism, improve muscle recovery and say goodbye to hot flushes! You’ll sleep deeper and be able to remain asleep longer. It is the layer missing between you and your mattress!
3. Watch what you drink and eat
Avoid eating sugary sweets, simple carbs, fruits, juices and other foods with a high-glycemic index before bed, as it can spike blood sugar, boost your energy and you can wake up feeling hungry in the middle of the night.
Avoid heavy or large meals within three hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.Try a small dinner that contains a little bit of protein with vegetables.
Also, try to focus on incorporating melatonin-producing foods and melatonin foods. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, which is responsible for setting your “sleep-wake cycle” and for maintaining your body’s circadian rhythm (the clock that controls the rhythms of time-dependent biological processes). It is the major key to a natural, healthy sleep cycle. So eating a combination of foods that support melatonin or contain tryptophan (which contributes to melatonin production) will help you sleep and stay asleep. Some of these foods on a low carb diet are ginger, radishes, nut and seeds, pasture raised chicken and eggs, wild-caught fish and one of my favorite healthy fats-ghee (liquid gold).
4. Limit caffeine to morning hours
The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. Caffeine’s effects can last up to 12 hours. Limit caffeine intake to morning hours. If you can’t sleep at night, the mid-afternoon cup of coffee or caffeinated tea might be to blame.
5. Declutter your mind
When you can’t sleep, oftentimes, it’s our own thoughts preventing us from falling asleep. Instead of running through situations or think about what you got to do the next day, try journaling before bed. It’s a therapeutic way to address what might be troubling you. It helps downloading from your brain everything that has happened that day and stop thinking about it.
Also, try to read a book that helps you reduce stress and unwind your mind.
6. Stop electronics before bedtime
Watching television, looking social media on your phone or answering emails while you are in bed can trick your brain into thinking that your bed is just another spot to get things done and not the place to settle down after a long day.
7. Avoid Blue light exposure at night
Artificial lighting isn’t avoidable in our society today but there are certain precautions and strategies I would suggest to limit the negative impact of being exposed.
The reason why artificial lighting can be bad for the human body is when it is blue-spectrum lighting. Cell phones, TVs, and computers give off intense blue light that has been shown to inhibit melatonin production in the brain by up to 80% and disrupt sleep.
To reduce your exposure to blue light, turn on the nightshift option on your computer, phone or tablet and wear blue light blocking glasses from sunset time.
8. Get some sunshine
Get outside early in the morning and expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day. For maximum benefit, leave the sunglasses at home as this will disrupt sunlight from reaching important photoreceptors in your eyes. Sunlight helps reset your biological clock and will set you up for a natural release of melatonin at night and a better sleep.
Simple daily habits to incorporate slowly