There are times when getting a much-needed night’s sleep feels like an exercise in futility. You toss and turn and still the Sand Man remains as elusive as a thief in the night. Hard as you try, you just can’t seem to get your brain to shut off and your body to unwind.
If sleeplessness has plagued your bed, you are in good company: as many as one in three Americans deal with some sort of chronic sleeplessness at some point in their life. However there may be some simple things you can do to help you drift off into a blissful state of slumber.
Paper or PC:
Ditch the digital and go with paper. There is something about those little glowing screens that causes our minds to work overtime. Go to the library (remember those buildings with lots of books?) and pick up that long-lost reverend novel and integrate an hour of book reading into your bedtime routine. Keep smartphones hours – just like you would (or should) your working hours – during daylight.
As tempting as a big meal is at the end of a long day, a heavy meal can wreak havoc on our body’s natural rhythm when it’s trying to segue into sleep mode. According to WebMD, eating at night may cause a disruption in the body’s circadian clock and make digestion more difficult and as a result, keeps us up when we should be down.
Turn off the Brain
The best way to turn off the brain is to actually take a few minutes to write down all the things that come to your mind; those things that your mind is gnawing at and is prompting you to accomplish the following day. Start journaling your thoughts, feelings, worries, hopes – whatever ails you. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, regurgitating your thoughts on paper and pouring out what’s on your mind will actually send a message to your brain that says: “we’ve already written this down; we don’t need to review this anymore”. The key is to allow your mind to release distracting thoughts, impending projects, and put the mind in a relaxed, yet prepared for the day ahead, state.
There is something about a good vigorous hard workout that is not only good for our bodies but physically wears us out. The other wonderful side effect? It welcomes sleep like a long lost friend as you fall into bed at night. The key with exercise is to make sure it’s done earlier in the day and not within 3 hours of bedtime or your metabolism will still be revved, making it harder to get those z’s.
For thousands of years, traditional Chinese Medicine has relied on herbs for their natural healing powers. Various parts of the plant including the leaves, roots, stems, flowers and seeds are used and then dispensed in the form of teas, capsules, liquid extracts and powders. Traditional western medicine has conducted only limited studies on the true effectiveness of various herbs. Still, there has been a mountain of anecdotal evidence showing its popularity and effectiveness, especially in the case of treating sleep disorders.
- Valerian is an herb that has been around since ancient times and is said to be helpful with insomnia and nervousness
- Chamomile is another herb that has been around for centuries and some studies have shown it to serve as a mild sleep aid
- Melatonin is actually a hormone and some studies suggest it may help with delayed sleep phase disorders
We have all heard about the restorative properties of essential oils. Their claims in eastern medicine go back thousand of years. The best use is to buy the oils in their purest form and with a diffuser to take advantage of its full benefits. The following are some sleep-enhancing essential oils:
- Lavender: some scientific evidence on how the aroma of lavender promotes sleep
- Vetiver: some studies have shown that it may help the brain ‘shut down’
- Ylang Ylang: also may promote relaxation with a light floral scent
- Bergamot: smells citrusy with a calming effect
- Sandalwood & Cedar wood: woodsy and warm, also promoting rest and relaxation
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a study that found that most people sleep better when they are in a room that is comfortable and clean. So it turns out the environment we are in, right down the sheets that you sleep on, has a powerful impact on the quality of your sleep.
The soft durable rich texture of microfiber has gained popularity in recent years over its stiff cotton counterpart. Microfiber is a breathable fabric that keeps the body cool and comfortable at night and since its anti-allergenic won’t acerbate those with allergies. Choose colors that compliment your bedroom palette and will make you feel nestled in sleep-inducing comfort.
The good news is, for most people, insomnia is an inevitable yet transient season and like many other life seasons, it too shall pass. But if your best efforts don’t’ find you blissfully counting sheep even after implementing some the above-referenced tips, then seek the advise of a trusted medical professional and don’t let sleeplessness rob you of life quality. Rest well my friends!