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’ll feel like I’m lying on a bed of coals and 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 groggy and grumpy, and I’m just plain 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 an eventually affect your health, weight, mental capacity, work performance, and safety. I’m doomed!
I decided to do a little research to find causes and solutions for insomnia. Here are a few 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 cell phone, tablet, laptop, and TV can 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, checking messages on Facebook or watching the news in bed, okay? 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 citrus juice) 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 lunch, 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. If you must have a bedtime snack, go with something light like a bowl of cereal with milk or a handful of plain almonds.
Don’t bring your troubles to bed with you. I admit, I’m a worrywart. If I have something on my mind, I tend to toss and turn all night. You, too? Then try writing down what’s bothering you and deal with it the next day.
Create a relaxing environment. Block out noises with ear plugs and draw the curtains, blinds or shades to block out bright lights (or wear a sleep mask). Play soft music or nature sounds to lull you to sleep and try meditating to reduce stress and calm your mind. Check out these meditating techniques 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-insulated and ventilated, too. A room that’s hot and stuffy or cold and drafty isn’t 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, try a MyPillow®. It’s amazing! Also, make sure your mattress provides adequate support.
Try natural sleeping aids, like these:
Chamomile – a cup of warm herbal tea is known to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation.
Tart cherry juice – research shows having two glasses a day helps improve the quality of your sleep.
Lavender – the scent has a soothing effect so you fall asleep faster. Try making a lavender sachet and keep 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 carefully before using.
Find more natural sleep aids at everydayroots.com.
Now it’s time to catch some zzzzzz’s. Sweet dreams!