Remember, sleep is supposed to be relaxing. Good daily sleep helps to renew your body every night.
Do not make sleep a competition or skimp for too long (longer than a few days) on getting a good night’s sleep of at least 7 to 8 hours per day. Everybody has trouble sleeping from time to time, so don’t worry if you’re having a stretch of having trouble sleeping. Try these tips to help return to a restful, natural sleep.
1. Get on a regular schedule. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day creates a rhythm for your body. Only use your bed for sleep or romance. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom: Studies show the artificial, bright light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin. Your bedroom should be a quiet, peaceful haven.
2. Get natural sunlight. Aim for at least 20 minutes of sunshine every day, preferably in the morning, which triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycles. Avoid computers, smart phones, tablets and television one or two hours before bed. You might also try low blue light exposure for about three hours before bed. Low blue spectrum light helps your brain reset for sleep and increase melatonin.
3. Use an acupressure mat. This helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and create deep relaxation. Lay on it for about 30 or more minutes before bed.
4. Get grounded. At times, electromagnetic frequencies can impair sleep. I recommend turning off WiFi and keeping all of your electronic devices away from your bed. Create a common area charging station in your home and encourage all your family members to “check in” their devices before bed.
5. Clear your mind. Everyone knows how something resonating on your mind can hinder sleep. Turning your mind off can become a challenge. Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and write down your to-do list or ruminations before you go to sleep so you can close your eyes and make it less likely for your mind to spin.
6. Perform light stretching or yoga before bed. This relaxes your mind and body. Research shows daily yoga can improve sleep significantly.
7. Use herbal therapies. I recommend 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of passionflower or 320 to 480 mg of valerian root extract before bed. Other natural sleep supplements include melatonin or magnesium. Potato starch mixed into a glass of water before bedtime can also help. Start slowly with one teaspoon and gradually build up the dose. This feeds good gut bacteria and improves blood sugar control while helping you drift into sleep. You can find sleep and other quality supplements at the pharmacy.
8. Use relaxation practices. Guided imagery, meditation or deep breathing calm your mind and help you drift into sleep. Try calming essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile or ylang ylang.
See a doctor if your sleeping problem continues. If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, then you may have a sleep disorder and should see a physician. Your primary care physician may be able to help you; if not, you can probably find a sleep specialist at a major hospital near you. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively, so you can finally get that good night’s sleep you need.