Quality sleep can make all of the difference in our well-being.
Poor sleep leads to a number of physical and mental health problems. Furthermore, it exacerbates existing issues. This is often a vicious cycle.
For example, people with anxiety often have insomnia. Their minds race and race, and they can’t fall asleep. In the morning, they are tired but restless. Their emotional defenses are down, and therefore, they are more susceptible to additional forms of anxiety, such as irritability and frustration.
The first thing to do to overcome sleep problems is to address all underlying health issues. They may be causing or worsening the inability to get quality sleep.
Here are five other things to start doing today for better sleep.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is one of the best treatments for insomnia. First of all, exercise reduces stress and anxiety, which leads to improved sleep. Furthermore, it helps the body get tired in the right ways so that you get more sleep, as well as better quality sleep.
Keep these things in mind:
- Exercise for thirty minutes each day (the more consistently, the better)
- Don’t overdo it (occasionally, longer exercise is good but don’t over-train)
- Do active, aerobic exercise in the morning and in the afternoon
- Turn to relaxed stretching as bedtime nears (but don’t exercise too close to bedtime)
Note that the benefits of exercise for insomnia might take a little while to kick in. Stick with it anyway.
2. Learn to Relax
As previously mentioned, you want to stick with only light, relaxing exercise as bedtime nears. In fact, you want to make the entire evening as relaxing as possible.
- Turn off all electronic gadgets and devices
- Dim the lights throughout your house
- Take a warm bath and perform a getting-ready-for-bed routine
- Meditate or reflect
- Listen to relaxing music
- Exchange massages with your partner, snuggle, or make love
3. Set a Routine
Your getting-ready-for-bed routine shouldn’t be the only routine in your life. In fact, the more consistent you keep your schedule, the better quality sleep you’ll get.
In particular, you want to try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Yes, even on the weekends.
While it’s okay to lie in bed leisurely on a Sunday morning, don’t just sleep in. It throws off your body’s rhythm and makes insomnia more likely.
4. Choose the Right Foods
The food and drink that you put into your body play a large role in how well you sleep.
Of course, you want to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and anything that might cause heartburn or indigestion late in the day. In fact, you may want to limit drinks of all kinds. While you don’t want to get dehydrated, you also don’t want to have to wake up at night to go to the bathroom.
People on different diets may have varied needs when it comes to nighttime snacks. For example, some people do well with a little protein right before bed. Some sleep well with carbs in their system. And yet, others can sleep best on an empty stomach. Experiment with this and find out what works best for you.
In general, you want to eat just a little bit of food at night, preferably whole, unprocessed foods. Again, find what works best for you.
5. Get Back Up
Even if you do everything “right” throughout the day, you might still struggle with sleep. Either you simply can’t fall asleep or you may wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t go back to sleep.
First, relax and try to sleep. However, if you can’t, don’t toss and turn. After about 20 minutes of being awake in bed get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Here are some ideas:
- Read a book (preferably something boring that does not engage your mind too much, like a work manual!)
- Practice deep breathing
- Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Play nature sounds
- Knit, crochet, or sew something (again, a repetitive pattern that does not require further awakening of your mind)
Lack of quality sleep is a common problem in our society. However, that doesn’t mean that we can dismiss it. It can have huge effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and overall performance during the day. Learn about how sleep therapy can help.