Like many Americans (especially women) I have struggled with varying degrees of insomnia for much of my adult life. For those of you who have experienced this, you know how frustrating sleeplessness can be. You struggle to fall asleep, or wake up suddenly - your mind racing with a million stressful thoughts. I used to wake up gasping in the middle of the night with my heart pounding so hard I could hear it. Scary! Then I couldn't get back to sleep because I couldn't turn off the flood of worries on my mind. For some people, stress and anxiety is the issue, for others it may be hormonal imbalances, poor diet or excess caffeine consumption, all of which are far too common in our lives.
Thankfully I discovered some very simple solutions. It took years before I finally found a doctor who actually shed some light on what was causing my insomnia instead of just prescribing me anxiety meds and sending me on my way. Sound familiar? I was finally able to say goodbye to insomnia once and for all, and I want to share with you some simple strategies for improving your quality of sleep and reaping all the benefits of getting some good zzz's. Getting great sleep means reduced stress, a healthier metabolism, better skin, increased immunity, healthier digestion, mental clarity, improved thyroid & adrenal function, and an all-around more enjoyable life! So give these 5 tips a shot and see what a difference a few small changes can make.
Work it out. If you are sleep-challenged, exercise is your best friend! Working out is a great stress reliever and will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Most insomniacs have better luck with morning workouts since exercising late in the evening can have an energizing effect.
Eat yourself to sleep. What you put in your mouth can mean the difference between leading a well-rested, vibrant life and walking around like a zombie. If you don't want to feel like an extra on The Walking Dead, you need to give your body quality fuel. Everyone is different, but we can all benefit from cutting way back on, or eliminating sugar, alcohol, processed foods, feedlot meats, wheat, corn and soy (no, soy is NOT a health food). Eating well isn't rocket science - just focus on eating lots of veggies, low-sugar fruits, and some pastured, grass-fed meats and I guarantee you'll feel (and look) much better. You can still have those naughty treats occasionally, just try to avoid them 80-90% of the time if you are sleep-challenged. After I cut out sugar and dairy I started sleeping soundly all through the night. That's well worth the sacrifice if you ask me!
Nix the Nightcap. That evening glass of wine or cocktail may seem like it's helping you wind down, but in actuality alcohol disrupts our sleep patterns and increases cortisol production. Cortisol is a "fight or flight" type stress hormone that when chronically elevated due to stress, poor diet or lifestyle choices, contributes to anxiety, fat storage (no thanks!) and you guessed it, insomnia among other things.
Don't be afraid of the dark. Our sleep hormones, namely melatonin, are light sensitive and we only produce them after the sun goes down. If we watch TV late at night, keep bright lights on throughout the house, or stare at a back lit screen such as a phone, tablet, or computer after dark, that melatonin production is inhibited. Insufficient melatonin = insufficient sleep. Try to dim the lights and limit your exposure to back lit devices after sundown or at least 1-2 hours before bed. Getting some sunlight first thing in the morning and keeping a regular sleep schedule will also contribute to healthy circadian rhythms.
Create a Sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a sacred place of retreat and relaxation. You don't want this room to conjure up thoughts of that presentation you need to finish, so don't work in this room. Reserve your bedroom for sleep, sex and maybe some soothing bedtime yoga or prayer/meditation. If you're going to read in bed, choose something soothing and pleasant versus a murder mystery or something suspenseful. You want to have only positive and relaxing associations with this room.
If you would like more info on sleep issues or additional support in your quest for a healthier, happier life, schedule a complimentary Breakthrough Session. I would love to hear how these tips work for you, so shoot me a message here with your feedback.