Sleep troubles come in many varieties. Do you have trouble shutting down the day’s activities, or actually falling asleep? Do you go to sleep easily but wake often during the night? Does your significant other snore? If you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you are likely not sleeping well, and it is decreasing your brain function and affecting your body.
Do you ascribe to the belief that sleep is overrated? If so, you may not realize that skimping on sleep can decrease the blood flow to your brain, which disrupts thinking, memory and concentration. And if you combine sleep apnea with this reduced sleep, you are also limiting the oxygen that is reaching your brain and your cells.
Scientists have discovered in fascinating new research that the brain has a special “waste management system” that works while you sleep to get rid of toxins, including the brain plaque that is thought to contribute to age-related memory issues. Without healthy sleep, this cleaning crew doesn’t have enough time to do their job and trash builds up, causing brain fog and memory problems. Quality sleep is essential to wellness!
What can you do to improve your sleep? I have a few tips to share. Keep in mind that we are unique individuals and what works for one may not work for another. Experiment until you find what works for you.
- Rather than sleeping in a warm room, make sure the temperature is on the cooler side. Research shows that a drop in temperature actually induces sleep.
- Rather than falling asleep watching a TV show or surfing the web, take computers, video games, TV and cell phone out of your bedroom and turn them off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Studies show they emit a blue light that stimulates the brain.
- Rather than drinking a glass of wine before bed, drink a mixture of warm unsweetened almond or coconut milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a few drops of stevia. This tasty beverage may increase serotonin in your brain to aid sleep.
- Rather than going to bed worried or angry, try to settle emotional problems before going to sleep with a positive text or email or setting an intention in a journal entry. There’s a reason that the Bible directs us not to let the sun go down on our anger. Forgiveness benefits you!
- Rather than being disturbed by every noise you hear, use sound therapy to induce a peaceful mood and lull you to sleep. Soothing nature sounds, wind chimes, a fan or soft slow-beat music can help with sleep.
- Rather than going for a late night run or taking an evening exercise class (unless it is yoga), finish exercising at least 4 hours before planning to sleep. While regular exercise helps to counter insomnia, vigorous exercise in the evening may energize and keep you awake.
- Rather than using a night light or a lighted clock, ensure that your room is as dark as possible. Exposure to light or darkness is a key factor in regulating sleep patterns.
If you are able to sleep 7-9 hours each night without difficulty, you can be thankful. But if you struggle with sleep, I encourage you to choose one or more of these tips to see how the changes affect you. Give it time and keep exploring new approaches. If you find yourself continuing to struggle, reach out to me and we can talk about additional approaches.