Imagine going to bed when you’re tired and waking up with no alarm.
That’s the ideal way for our bodies to get the right amount of sleep.
Most adults need 7 to 8 hours each night. But that ideal doesn’t match up with our real lives, unless we are on vacation or retired.
My husband, Don, and I have struggled with getting good quality sleep.
I know that tired feeling day after day from interrupted sleep. When I’m tired it takes away some of my joy. My normal tasks seem harder and my attitude is not good. It’s not fun.
Don says, ‘I’m so tired that I can taste it’.
I’ve done some research and read several good books. There are good strategies to ensure high quality sleep, most of which we have implemented.
1. Have sleep rituals that you do each night that prepare your body for sleep.
That’s what we teach our children right? Pajamas on, a little snack, brush your teeth and then bedtime stories, then time to sleep. It’s a good routine to return to!
2. Try to go to bed at the same time each night.
It helps set our body’s internal clock.
3. Be screen free for half an hour before bed.
The blue light emitted by screens slows down the production of melatonin the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle. With less melatonin, it’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
4. Be smart and limit caffeine.
Some of us are very sensitive and can’t have caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m. I’ve had nights when I was disgusted with myself for having coffee when out for dinner and then not sleeping most of the night. Not smart!
5. Avoid big meals in the late evening.
However, you may need a small snack before bed. A small bowl of non-sugary cereal with milk, a banana or yogurt are good choices.
6. Get regular exercise.
Exercise helps you be alert in the daytime and sleep better. It even helps you have a better quality of sleep, with more time in the deep restorative stage.
7. Keep your bedroom cool.
If it’s too cold or too hot it disrupts your sleep.
8. Make the room dark.
The darkness is a signal to our brains that it’s time to sleep. Get some blinds or curtains that block those streetlights.
9. Do something with your cell phone.
It can disrupt your sleep with text and email chimes and vibrations. Let your friends know you don’t answer late-night texts! If you must keep it in your bedroom, don’t have it near your bed.
10. Get your brain to slow down.
If you have trouble shutting down the to-do lists and the stresses from the day, try ‘brain dumping’. Take a piece of paper and write down all the things you think you need to remember. All the appointments, phone calls, and home and work responsibilities.
Once they are on paper then our brains don’t need to work on remembering them. If something comes to mind when you are trying to fall asleep – tell yourself that it’s on the list and you will deal with it tomorrow. I’ve done this exercise regularly and it helps me. Give it a try.
11. Don’t toss and turn.
If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes get out of bed. Read a book or magazine, do that ‘brain dumping’ suggestion and go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
12. If you have many nights of poor quality sleep make an appointment with your Doctor.
Good sleep is an important part of your overall health and shouldn’t be neglected.
We want every day to be a good day because of a good night of sleep!