The number one reason why most people either have difficulty falling asleep or have difficulty staying asleep is stress. Stressful feelings throw our hormonal system and nervous system out of sync, making it challenging to calm down and creating difficulties sleeping.
Incorporating a stress reducing technique throughout the day can have a positive influence on your stress levels and improve your sleep. Also, try incorporating them before bedtime to bring your body and mind into better balance.
Some examples of stress relieving techniques include:
- Deep breathing
- Quick coherence technique from the HeartMath Institute.
#2. Adopt a sleep loving lifestyle
There are many lifestyle factors under our control that affect our quality and quantity of sleep.
Curb the caffeine. If sleep is a problem for you, caffeine is NOT the solution. Caffeine can cause sleep problems many hours after drinking it. As a general guideline, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after noon.
Avoid eating a large meal within 3 hours of bedtime. Digestion takes a lot of energy and can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Furthermore, your body is mean to digest while awake, not asleep. Eating then falling asleep often leads to poor digestion and malabsorption which can contribute to gas, bloating, acid reflux, flatulence and many other digestive related conditions.
Avoid vigorous exercise 2 hour before bedtime. Vigorous exercise increases our adrenaline which and linger around and make it hard to sleep. Opt for a more gentle exercise, like yoga or gentle stretching.
#3. Sleep hygiene
Just like you shower, wash your face and brush and floss your teeth to maintain your personal hygiene, there are habits that can maintain your sleep hygiene as well.
Unplug. No phones, iPods, iPad, TV or other devices with monitors 1 hour before bed. The light, emitted from these devices has been shown to shut down your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This highly contributes to the inability to fall asleep.
Routine. Go to bed and rise at the same time everyday, even weekends. Your body craves routine. Many hormones and body processes are regulated by our circadian rhythm, our body’s innate, inner rhythm. This rhythm is reinforced by routine but can be easily disrupted by many factors, which can not only lead to difficulty sleeping, but a host of other related conditions.
Sleep in a cool, dark room. Studies have shown that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit and sleeping in a dark room again ensures the body’s melatonin production is not inhibited. Use an eye mask, or black out curtains to ensure light cannot get into your bedroom.