Anyone else having a hard time sleeping lately?
I see a lot of hands in the air…
Of course we can’t sleep! Unprecedented, worldwide, back-to-back events are causing stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights for many. Even those who typically don’t have any trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
With all the chaos out there, we need to gather our wits, be still, and get calm. This post might help: 8 Easy Ways to Get Grounded
Insomnia and prolonged lack of sleep are the root cause many psychological and physiological problems…some can be quite serious:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immunity
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive
- Impulsive behavior
- Mood swings
- Aging skin
- Slows brain function
- Poor memory
- Lack of good judgement
- More accident prone…
And the list goes on…
A recent study found that people who slept less than 7 hours were more likely to be involved in a car accident. The risk escalates for those with less than 4 hours of sleep. And this is only in one, 24-hour period!
Imagine being sleep deprived for days, weeks, or months at a time. 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Serious prolonged sleep deprivation can even make you hallucinate. Good grief!
Anyone else remember the episode of Laverne and Shirley when they signed up for sleep and food deprivation studies to earn extra money? The episode was called Guinea Pigs. Hilarious! (I’m dating myself here…)
After giving birth the first time, I truly understood why sleep deprivation is used a form a torture. The lack of sleep alone made me feel completely bat-sh*t crazy. Seriously, I did not do well that first year.
The good news is, there are naturally effective ways to claim those lost ZZZs.
The National Institute of Health conducted a sleep study with people suffering from insomnia. Instead of using pharmaceutical drugs, they implemented talk therapy. People with depression resolved their insomnia after 8 weeks of sleep therapy and 87% not only resolved their insomnia, their symptoms of depression disappeared!
…All without medication. That is very encouraging.
The goal is to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This number will differ from person to person, but the standard is to get AT LEAST SEVEN hours a night.
10 Tips to Improve Sleep
- Create a Bedtime Routine
- Keep your sleep schedule the same, even on the weekends.
- Meditation – Check out Self-Care in Uncertain Times for a quick meditation that can be done anywhere.
- Deep Belly Breathing is an easy, proven way to calm yourself, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and relax. See a simple technique in this POST.
- You can also breathe along with this video… such a simple yet effective way to fall asleep.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – try this short, guided technique while lying in bed. I suggest using a headset.
- Practice a calming activity like light yoga, stretching and/or reading.
- Limit Sugar & Refined/Processed Food
- If you need a snack before bed, try these:
- Handful of almonds or walnuts
- Very small bowl of oatmeal
- Cup of cottage cheese
- Warm milk with honey – if you don’t do cow, try warming up some vanilla almond milk …that’s what I drink!
- Plain yogurt with honey – my husband makes our yogurt! (I’ll get his recipe and link back later)
- If you need a snack before bed, try these:
- Exercise Daily
- Even 10-15 minutes a day can help. Check this post out for ideas: 10 Ways to Stay Healthy & Thrive While at Home
- Daily exercise helps you fall asleep, stay asleep, and have more energy during the day.
- Treat Your Room as Your Sanctuary
- No TV in your room.
- Minimal decoration.
- Your bedroom should be reserved for 2 functions only: Sleep & Sex.
- Turn Off All Devices
- No Screen Time for at least 1 hour before bed.
- Turn off devices and keep the TV in the family room. TV is too stimulating and suppresses melatonin, which is needed for the body to relax and drift off to dreamland.
- Get a Better Pillow
- Nix the Alcohol & Cigarettes
- Alcohol may help you relax and fall asleep, but your sleep cycle will be interrupted the rest of the night.
- Cigarettes are a stimulant and will keep you awake longer, among the many, serious health problems caused by smoking. Don’t do it.
- Avoid Heavy Meals & Limit Caffeine
- Don’t eat a heavy meal at least 2 hours before bed and avoid anything spicy or acidic that will cause heartburn.
- Caffeine can stay in your system and interfere with sleep patterns up to 10-12 hours after drinking that cup of tea or coffee. (*Remember, chocolate also contains caffeine.)
- Set the Tone in Your Room: Cool, Dark, Quiet
- Get room darkening shades if necessary.
- When you go to sleep, your body temperature naturally lowers. To help your body achieve this faster and remain in that yummy sleep state, turn your thermostat down to between 65-72 degrees – find what works for you.
- Keep it quiet – Try white noise to block out noisy neighbors. We still use the apps we used for our kids, works for us too! Sound Sleeper (I love the Mountain River Setting) & White Noise Baby (I like the Brown Noise).
- Hatch Baby is a white noise device that connects to your phone, can be programmed remotely, has a nightlight, and a time to rise alert.
- Respect Your Body’s Natural Sleep-Wake Cycles
- This is called your circadian rhythm.
- Make sure to expose yourself to light first thing in the morning – open those shades and curtains!
- Get enough natural light during the day. Take a 10-minute walk at lunch time!
- Dim your house lights before bed and get room darkening shades if necessary.
- If your area of the world has limited daylight during the winter, use a light therapy box.
Please remember these are all suggestions. If you suffer from serious sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, sleep walking, night terrors, insomnia, etc., by all means, please see your doctor.
A few new habits can make a world of difference with your quality of sleep, and as a result, your quality of life.
Now go catch some ZZZs! As my dad always says, “Sleep loose!” 😴