There are many reasons why we have a hard time sleeping. Work-related issues, relationship problems and financial stress are some of the many things that keep us from getting a full night's rest, and although it may seem out of your control to take care of everything all at once, there are methods to handling it in a way that won't hurt your sleep cycle. There's no arguing that sleeping is important for our health, so for all of you restless insomniacs, here's a list of 11 tips to keep in mind to get your much-needed sleep.
1. Limit alcohol. Although alcohol can make you feel sleepy and often help you fall asleep, drinking too much of it can make you wake up at night. Those round of drinks you shared with your girlfriends on your night out on the town could lead to a restless night with tossing and turning. (via Eating Well)
2. Limit caffeine. Caffeine affects people differently, but if you notice that it prevents you from falling asleep at night, try to cut back on the amount that you usually drink or limit yourself to only enjoying it in the morning. Keep in mind that caffeine has a half-life of six hours, meaning that six hours after you take your last sip, half the caffeine is still in your body.
3. Limit chocolate and sugary snacks. Chocolate contains tyramine and caffeine which affect your energy levels. Sugar causes a spike in your blood glucose levels, giving your brain a jolt of fuel to keep it awake. Having a little is okay, just don't go overboard with it!
4. Avoid unhealthy late night snacks. MSG is added to processed and packaged foods that can work as a stimulant in the body. Eating this before you go to bed can leave you lying awake all night! (via Elevated Wellness) Click here to read more about processed foods.
5. Don't over-eat before going to bed. Snacking on something healthy before you go to bed isn't bad for you, but eating a large amount of heavy foods that are high in sodium, protein and spices will activate the digestive system and keep you up. In addition, drinking a lot of water before you go to bed can overwhelm the bladder and require frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. (via WedMD)
>> Need to nibble on something before you go to bed? Click here to see a list of late-night bites that won't blow your diet!
6. Limit naps. It's important to maintain a regular sleep pattern and train your body to sleep with certain cues (i.e., darkness, consistent bedtime, quiet environment). "Fragmented sleep" causes daytime drowsiness and compromises learning, memory, productivity and creativity.
7. Exercise regularly. Exercising elevates core body temperature for five to six hours, and can have a stimulant effect on the body, so try exercising between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., (or at least three hours before you go to bed) to get the physiological benefits. (via WebMD)
8. Keep your bedroom cool. A room that's too warm can induce nightmares, and a room that's too cold can keep you from fully falling asleep because your body is working to protect its core temperature. Solution: Set your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ideal sleeping temperature. (via Forbes)
9. Limit activities in bed. Your bed is meant for sleeping, relaxing and having a fun romp with your partner. If you turn your bed into a desk, workstation or entertainment center, the increased levels of alertness can make it difficult to fall asleep. (via WebMD)
10. Get all your worries out before you go to bed. If you've spent nights laying wide awake in your bed because you can't stop thinking about something that's bothering you, get it all out on paper. Make a list of what's on your mind and how you're going to handle them the next day. That way, you'll be able to go to sleep knowing that you have a well-thought out plan for the following day. (via WebMD)
11. Reduce stress. Relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods will help you ease the mind and body before going to bed. Some examples of this include progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing techniques, imagery, meditation, and biofeedback. (via WebMD) Click here to read a beginner's guide to meditation.