Since high school I’ve often struggled with falling asleep and staying asleep. During my freshman year of college, it was the worst it’s ever been. It could take me hours to fall asleep! I’d count sheep, toss and turn, try to think about nothing, and count backwards from 300 (that one actually works sometimes!) This usually left me feeling ‘out of it’ all day long the next day. YOU know the feeling! Thankfully, in the past year my sleep cycle has changed dramatically and I am much better at ‘catching those zzzz’s.’
Although every night may not be perfect, I no longer consider myself an ‘insomniac’. So, what’s changed?? A lot of things. Here are my top 5 tips for how to sleep well!
- Get into a healthy routine. This is CRUCIAL for a proper night’s sleep. I’m not saying that you have to climb into bed at exactly the same moment every night and wake up at 7 am on-the-dot every morning. But it IS important to establish a fairly predictable bed time and wake up schedule. This helps your body to find it’s natural rhythm. And repeat the same general routine to unwind and help signal your body that it’s time to relax. Turn off all your electronic devices, as well as your thoughts and energy. Let your body know it’s time to SNOOZE!
- Eat consistent meals. This is HUGE! I can’t say it enough! I try to eat just about the same amount of food everyday. Sure, some days may be a little less and others a little more… but on average I’m eating pretty consistently. And I’m choosing healthy foods, of course. Skip the sugar and caffeine late in the day and don’t drink too much water after dinner. I used to skip meals or snack too much, but now my body has time to digest a healthy dinner and a little dessert and maybe even a tiny bed time snack. Getting in tune with your body prevents you from eating too much (you know that full, bloated, stuffed feeling) or too little (I’m famished!)… both of which make it hard to sleep.
- Skip the sleeping pills. Ugh! I HATE ‘sleepy pills.’ I’ve tried them on and off through the years and I quickly discovered that my body easily becomes dependent on them to fall asleep. I know some people recommend taking something natural like Melatonin, but I say get off the pills altogether. They mess up your body’s natural rhythm and they create a sense of dependency. No thank you! Instead of looking for a calming atmosphere with a sleeping pill, create a relaxing environment in your bedroom… a clean, clutter-free, calming place to sleep. Try a little ‘white noise’ to drown out any background sounds. I love a good face mask to keep the light out, too.
- Skip the long siestas. I very rarely nap (although I always seem to fall asleep when I take a long trip in the car.) In order to sleep your best at night, never allow yourself more than a “cat nap” which is about 30 minutes or less. If your body goes into too deep of a sleep cycle you’ll wake up partway through the next cycle. You’ll wake up in something called “sleep inertia”… which is when you feel more tired than before you went to sleep. Avoid the long naps and you’ll sleep SO much better at night!
- Stretch. If all else fails and you wake up in the middle of the night, get out of bed and stretch for 5 or 10 minutes. This will naturally de-stress your body and help you sleep like a baby. A simple back twist or some inverted stretching can really relax your mind and body and it can work out many of the kinks in your muscles. My mom doesn’t believe this one, but don’t knock it till you try it! I thought it wouldn’t work, but believe me, it really does!!
My sleeping cycle didn’t get better overnight, it took time and effort… so don’t stress if you still have difficulty falling asleep sometimes- give it time! Plus, stressing about it never helps anyways!
So these are my 5 tips for a better night’s sleep!! How about you? Do you sleep well?? What are your tips to getting a good nights rest?