I don’t know about you, but a good night’s sleep has been harder to achieve as I’ve gotten older. And, after menopause, geez! I have found a few things that have helped me better a better night’s sleep and may just help you as well.
1. Develop a pattern and stick with it. It is better to have a consistent time to go to sleep and wake up than to be different every night. Your body will become accustomed to the schedule and it will be easier to fall asleep. This is your body’s circadian rhythm.
2. Limit your caffeine intake in the evening. For some people, even afternoon caffeine can interfere with sleep. Be aware that that may be a factor in your sleep quality.
3. Limit liquids, especially 1-2 hours before bed. This is especially true if you have to get up to go to the bathroom several times at night. The best policy is to urinate right before you go to bed. That may give you one less time to get up!
4. Take a relaxing bath or shower. It has been found that a hot bath about 90 minutes before bedtime may help with better sleep quality. And, if you are prone to aches and pains, pour some Epsom salts into the bath water and soak for 20 minutes.
5. Don’t eat a heavy meal before bedtime. Eating a heavy meal can lead to poor sleep and disrupt hormones, such as HGH and melatonin, not to mention aggravate GERD in many people; not a pleasant sensation.
6. Get a dose of sunshine daily. Because your body depends on circadian rhythm to function optimally, light helps to direct wakefulness. If you are in an area with little daylight, such as in Alaska, then an investment in an artificial bright light would be advantageous.
7. What about blue light? What the heck is that? We are so used to watching TV, using computers, and gluing our eyes to our smartphones. The light on these devices can interfere with the quality of sleep and actually trick your body into thinking it is daytime.
8. Get some exercise. It is recommended that we get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Just DO SOMETHING! Walking is perhaps the easiest, but do what you like to do. It doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to have expensive gym memberships or wear fancy clothes. If you have a dog, use him or her as your hairy treadmill. You both need the exercise. Your body will thank you and your sleep will be enhanced. Just don’t do vigorous exercise right before bed.
9. Take an inventory of your bed and pillows. Could they be having an affect on your body? How many years have you had that mattress? Most recommend changing mattresses after 8-10 years. If you notice you are waking up with back and neck aches, it may just be your mattress. There are so many choices these days in the types of mattresses. Go to a mattress store and have fun laying down on their options. You will find out right away which feels right for you. You spend about 1/3 of your life in your bed. Don’t skimp here.
10. Herbal teas may help. One that has helped me is Sleepytime tea, which includes chamomile, can help initiate sleep.
11. Essential oils may help as well. Aromatherapy has become the rave lately; smells definitely affect the body and mind. The most popular oils are lavender, vanilla, rose, geranium, jasmine, citrus. There are several books online to help educate you on how best to use these oils. Realize that one scent isn’t the best for all. Everyone reacts to smells differently. Have fun testing the various oils.
12. Supplements may help. Melatonin is a popular sleep aid and comes in various doses. Start with a small dose, 1 mg and increase if needed about an hour before bedtime. Always consult with your healthcare provider about what you are doing to make sure there is no interaction with medications. Another supplement that has helped me is magnesium. Magnesium is so important and is responsible for more than 600 reactions in the body. It has helped me with my restless legs, so I don’t miss a dose daily. Again, always include your provider in your plan.
13. Bedroom environment. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Is it the right temperature for you? What is the noise factor? A quiet environment will help you relax sooner.
Hopefully one or more of these suggestions will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Until next time,
Stay well, stay healthy, stay focused.