Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Do you toss and turn all night? Do you wake up too early or find yourself feeling tired in the morning. If so, you are not alone. Millions of people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Insomnia takes a toll on your life and the people around you. Many of the reasons for not getting a good night’s sleep include trying to accomplish too much in one day, long work hours, stress and anxiety, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits.
Getting a good night’s sleep (generally 7-8 hours each night) is the foundation of a healthy life. Lack of sleep can lead to all types of health issues such as heart problems, lowered immunity, depression, diabetes, obesity, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, increased risk of accidents, and emotional issues.
Developing a bedtime routine, creating a healthy sleep environment, managing stress and anxiety, following a sleep schedule, and taking better care of your body are just some of the things you can do to get a good night’s sleep—every night.
HEALING TIPS FOR THE DAY
Try these tips for happy, healthy sleep.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
- Keep a regular schedule when possible. Wake up at the same time every day. This ritual will help you maintain your body’s natural circadian rhythms. It also helps to go to bed at the same time every day.
- Maintain regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities so your inner “body clock” runs more smoothly.
- Don’t read, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or use the computer in bed. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex.
Create a Healthy Sleep Environment
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and a little bit cool.
- Use comfortable bedding.
- Keep your bedroom clean and dust free. Use hypoallergenic pillow and bedding covers to decrease the effects of dust mites.
Follow a Sleep Schedule
- Create calming bedtime rituals such as dimming your lights hours before bed, taking a soothing bath, reading something relaxing, or drinking a warm (caffeine free) beverage. Allow yourself to let go and surrender to sleep.
- If you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, don’t make yourself stay in bed. Get up and do some very light activity such as a yoga pose, engaging in meditation, or listening to soothing music.
- If you are awake in the middle of the night, you are probably under stress. The stressors aren’t always obvious. Try writing down the things you are stressed about and possible solutions before you go to bed. Then listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, meditate, or drink herbal tea.
- If you fall asleep immediately, then wake up around 3 am like an alarm clock went off, you are probably experiencing anxiety or stress. You may be falling asleep from sheer exhaustion, but waking up with feelings of anxiety. Try moving your alarm clock where you can’t see it or covering it up. Also, try the suggestions mentioned above.
- If you wake up several times during the night, try using earplugs and removing as many electronic devices from your bedroom as you can. Make your bedroom a sacred, simple, comfortable place.
Manage Your Stress and Anxiety
- For occasional insomnia, the supplements valerian (a root that may help with the onset of sleep and sleep maintenance), melatonin (a hormone that plays a role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle), and L-theanine (an amino acid that’s a physical and mental relaxant) may be effective for insomnia. Be sure to check with your health care professional before taking these supplements or any other sleep aids.
- Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help you relax and sleep. The top five essential oils for sleep are lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and mandarin.
- Acupuncture is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of insomnia. It may reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep.
- Healing sounds of nature (such as ocean waves, rain, and thunderstorms) can improve the quality of rest and sleep. Listening to soothing music, or engaging in guided imagery or chakra balancing can help you gently relax into sleep.
- Meditation helps quiet your mind and, with regular practice, is an effective treatment for insomnia. Meditation can increase blood levels of melatonin, an important sleep regulator.
- Massage therapy can help relax you into a deep restful sleep. If stress and tension are the reasons you are not sleeping well, one of the benefits of massage therapy is improved sleep.
Take Care of Your Body
- Tai Chi and yoga can enhance the quality of your sleep. The amount of physical activity you expend during the day will help you relax at night and fall asleep more easily. With regular exercise your sleep quality is often improved.
- Avoid alcohol or nicotine for 1.5 hours before bed.
- Avoid strenuous exercise for 1.5 hours before bed.
- Avoid caffeine in beverages and food for about 3 hours before bed.
- Talk to your doctor if you continue to have difficulty sleeping.
- Holistic Stress Management
- Place and Space: Healing Environments
- Certificate in Integrative Health
Check our complete listing of courses and certificate programs.
LINKS/BOOKS WORTH NOTING
- National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/
- MedicineNet.com http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=47532
- HolisticOnline.com http://www.holisticonline.com/remedies/sleep/sleep_home.htm
- Integrative Health: A Holistic Approach for Health Professionals by Cyndie Koopsen and Caroline Young
- Oprah.com http://myown.oprah.com/search/index.html?q=sleep