August 28, 2018
Falling asleep and staying asleep can be such a simple task that may easily turn into sleepless nights, weeks, or maybe even months. If you find yourself stuck in the vicious sleepless cycle, it can be no easy task to get out of. You may find yourself barely able to keep your eyes open throughout the day, although still tossing and turning once you’re under the covers. Oh, and then the wonderful stress about how exhausted you’re going to be when the next day kicks in, which makes it even harder for you to doze off and get back to sleep.
If you are someone who can relate, you are certainly not alone. Up to one in five Americans have trouble sleeping. Luckily, there are some natural remedies that may be exactly what you need to get some shut-eye.
1. Sweat it OutExercise is a natural energy booster. Although it releases energizing and feel good hormones into the body, this is what allows exercise to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (1). However, keep in mind not to workout too close to bedtime, because it may actually have the opposite affect keeping you more alert and stimulated. A good time frame would be 4 to 5 hours before bed, giving your body enough time to settle back down post workout.
2. Cut the Buzz
Although a glass or two of wine before bed may have you falling asleep faster, it may not be giving you the restful sleep you need. Alcohol has been studied and shown to cause sleep disturbances throughout the night. In the journal of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, studies have shown that alcohol affects your normal sleep rhythms by increasing the amount of time in deep sleep, while decreasing the amount of time in REM sleep. Disrupting sleep during the REM cycle is crucial, since it is responsible for refreshing memory, concentration, and motor skills. You may be thinking an increase in deep sleep is good right? Not necessarily, since this is eventually offset by the second half of your night that is riddled with sleep disturbances due to the alcohol wearing off. It can be concluded from these studies that alcohol as a whole will not result in an entire night of restful sleep (3).
3. Keep it CoolIt is no easy task to fall asleep when the room is too hot, or even too cold. The body will begin to initiate sleep only when the body temperature begins to decline due to decrease heat production (4). Most of the available research can agree that a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleeping, with temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees disruptive to sleep (5). Another cooling tip, although some may not like this one too much, is to leave your feet out from under the covers because it will quickly help cool the body down. I have tested this one out myself and it definitely helped throughout the summer months when my room would stay warmer during the night.
4. Let it Go
One of the most useful tips I have found is just to learn to let go, whatever it may be. A lot of sleep issues are formed by an overactive mind that results in people not being able to fall asleep or can’t fall back to sleep due to their ruminating thoughts. Writing down your busy thoughts, or anything that is bothering you, can instantly relieve your worries allowing you to get some sleep. It is important to get rest and a good night’s sleep, however don’t stress yourself out about it. It has been proven that the more anxious you get about getting enough sleep, the more difficult it will be to actually get any (6). Whether it is external issues keeping you awake, or the worry about how much sleep you are or aren’t getting, it is important to find ways to let these thoughts come and go. If it is not something that needs to be addressed immediately, it can wait until tomorrow. And even with little sleep, most people can get through the next day just fine. It is key to free your mind from the struggle and worry to stop the vicious sleepless cycle.
5. Consider an Expert
Some people’s sleep issues may be a little more severe and can benefit from the help of a professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as well as Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) are known to have very positive success rates for people struggling with chronic insomnia (7). If the problem does not seem to subside after practicing some natural remedies, there is no shame in getting help from an expert.
Our sleep is undoubtedly one of the most important functions of the human body. One hour too long or too short may result in an imbalanced day, week, or even month. Hopefully these little tips can help improve your sleep and get you back into the right rhythm. Without feeling well rested, we lose the energy we need to get out there and seize the day.
Let go, get comfortable, and sleep tight.