Sleep has been a long-time struggle of mine. I have tried prescription sleep aids before and they haven’t worked well for me. However, there are lots of other great options besides medication. For those of you out there who also have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, trying some of the suggestions below for improving slumber.
20 recommendations to help you sleep better at night.
1. Exercise. Exercising regularly helps you to sleep better at night. Proven fact.
2. Eat certain foods to promote good sleep. Calcium-rich foods—people who are calcium deficient can find sleeping difficult, so try to incorporate more leafy green vegetables and yogurt into your diet. And most fish out there (especially salmon, halibut and tuna) boost vitamin B6 which is needed to make the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, so eat a rich diet of fish. Also good: B6 fortified cereals and tart cherry juice.
3. Try aromatherapy—scents like lavender are said to promote calmness and reduce stress. And we all know that stress can be a HUGE contributing factor to bad sleep quality.
4. If stress is a problem for you, consider a meditation-based fitness class like yoga. Or try just meditating on your own for 15 minutes a day at home.
5. Try out a CD that is made to encourage productive sleep. There are many well-reviewed options. Take a look at Amazon for some good ones.
6. Clear your head by writing down all your thoughts in a journal. The act of writing will help you to “work out” your emotions.
7. Similarly, keep a notepad by your bed and make a list of all the things you need to do if they’re running through your head while you’re trying to sleep. Again, if your sleep problems are linked to stress, getting what’s in your head onto paper can really help you to feel calmer before bed.
8. Do your best to shut out all outside light. The darker your room is, the more chance you have of falling asleep and staying asleep.
9. Be sure to shut off all nearby gadgets that emit blue light, like the TV and your laptop. The light emitted from these electronics is known to stimulate the brain and interfere with sleep.
10. Concentrate on your breathing. Pay attention to whether your breathing is shallow. Take long, slow belly breaths to put you into a calmer sleepy state.
11. Try listening to soothing music or using a sound machine.
12. Do not eat within 4 hours of bedtime. A full belly can also interrupt proper sleep.
13. Do not work out within 2 hours of bedtime, and stay away from hyper or stressful activities before bed.
14. Try a calming herbal tea like Chamomile or Valerian root tea, which is sold at health food stores as a natural sleep aid. I have had good results with the Valerian tea.
15. Try vitamins (though you should ALWAYS consult your doctor first). Magnesium and calcium help to boost sleep and are even more effective if they’re taken together. Melatonin is also promoted as a great sleep aid.
16. Get your blood work done. You may be deficient in Vitamin B12, D, iron or all of the above (if you’re like me), and the simple act of rebalancing your internal chemistry with the right vitamins could resolve your issues.
17. If you routinely take medication of any kind, talk to your doctor as it might be interfering with your sleep cycle. He or she may be able to suggest switching to something without that negative side effect.
18. Consider seeing a naturopath who may offer other helpful alternatives that your regular medical doctor didn’t.
19. Try a sleep app, like Sleep Cycle, which tracks your sleep and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase so you feel refreshed.
20. If all else fails, visit a sleep clinic—you may need to stay over for a couple of nights so that they can analyze your sleep patterns, but they will be able to inform you if there is an underlying treatable condition.
Good luck and Happy Sleeping!