Adults should get 7-9 hours of QUALITY sleep every night. That means falling asleep and staying asleep in a comfortable environment. Quality sleep supports a healthy immune system, regulates our appetites and hormones, and gives our body time to repair muscles. When we don’t get the sleep we need, our body doesn’t have time to consolidate memories, repair the body, or prepare our brains for the next day. Lack of sleep leads to a wealth of problems. Great news: you can follow the guidelines below to get better rest.
DON’T eat a big meal, spicy food, or sugary food within a few hours of bedtime. These can impact your ability to stay asleep.
DON’T nap. When cortisol drops in the late afternoon, we can be tempted to take a nap. This isn’t a bad idea if you limit your nap to 30-45 minutes, but if the nap is any longer you may not be able to fall asleep at night.
DON’T drink caffeine, smoke cigarettes, or consume alcohol. These will stimulate your body when you’re trying to sleep.
DON’T do anything but the two S’s (sleep and sex) in your bed. If you read, solve daily issues, or watch TV in bed, you can disrupt your melatonin production- making it difficult to sleep. Try finishing your texts, TV shows, etc. outside of your bed. This will make it easier for your brain to associate your bedroom with sleep.
DON’T allow your pet to sleep with you. Dogs often kick and reposition themselves during their sleep, and getting a paw to the face will probably wake you. Dogs are also exposed to allergens from walking outside that can be carried to your bed and cause your allergies to flare up.
DON’T skimp on your pillow. WebMD recommends getting a new pillow every 12-18 months. A pillow that isn’t compatible with your sleeping position can cause issues. Choose a pillow that is suitable to your sleeping position for maximum comfort.
DO turn on white noise. Having a constant humming from a fan, a white noise machine or a phone app can help you fall and stay asleep. White noise dampens other sounds and can help lull you to sleep.
DO get out of bed and do a mundane activity for 15-20 minutes if you are not able to fall asleep with the first 15 minutes of lying awake in bed.
DO exercise regularly. It can make falling asleep easier and increase the amount of deep sleep. In addition, your overall health will improve, which can lead to better overall sleep.
DO practice daily stress management. Set aside time each day to decompress and sort through life’s stressors. Massage, acupuncture, or progressive muscle relaxation (you can find guided tutorials online) can work wonders to reduce stress.
DO create a nightly ritual. Draw a warm bath with botanical salts. Make a warm cup of milk or calming tea. Journal your day. Do light yoga. Practice deep breathing. Give yourself some time to process the day by doing something that nourishes you and truly relaxes you.
Daily practice will bring increased results. If these tips don’t help, you can try botanical treatments with aromatherapy using herbs and essential oil (valerian, lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm are naturally sleep-inducing). Magnesium supplementation may also be good to try. Consult your naturopathic physician for dosage and recommendations.