If you have trouble sleeping—even occasionally—you’re not alone. It turns out, 30-40% of people have reported sleep disturbances of one kind or another, and more women have this issue than men.
Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or waking too early in the morning. It can be acute (lasting one to several nights) or chronic (lasting weeks to years).
However long it lasts, insomnia can be extremely frustrating, and even interfere with health and well being. Here are 7 simple ways to get a better night’s rest.
1. Limit or eliminate food and alcohol consumption before bedtime. Alcohol consumption, especially right before bedtime, is super detrimental to sleep. It inhibits the body’s ability to get into REM sleep, as well as interfering with the liver’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Having an early glass of wine with dinner can be fine, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid it after 6:00, and maybe even altogether.
Eating a large meal close to bedtime also interferes with your body’s ability to sleep. Eating late means your body is busy digesting food instead of regenerating itself, and can cause trouble falling asleep, or waking in the middle of the night. Don’t eat later than 6:30 in the evening, giving your digestion plenty of time to do it’s job—your waistline will thank you as well.
2. Limit caffeine. Drinking an afternoon latte is a recipe for sleep trouble. Switch your afternoon beverage to an uplifting herbal tea, or sparkling water with lemon. As a coffee junky myself, this has been a super-hard habit to break, but my mental and emotional health has been worth the sacrifice. Switching to decaffeinated coffee in the morning has not only helped my mood throughout the day, but allows me to sleep better at night.
3. Get plenty of exercise—early. Exercising, as we all know, is essential for a healthy body and mind, but when done in the evening it can inhibit the body’s ability to rest. Get lots of exercise, but do it early in the day, ensuring your ability to rest in the evening.
4. Prepare your sleep space. Studies show people sleep better in a cool, dark room (think cave). Make sure your room is quiet, with plenty of ventilation, a cool temperature, and a restful vibe. Clear the clutter, paint it a soothing color, and maybe bring in a candle or two.
Reserve bedroom activities for sex and sleep. It’s tempting to catch up on work emails, check your Facebook and Instagram feeds, or binge-watch your favorite Netflix series into the wee hours, but by reserving your bedroom for sleep, entering that space becomes your body’s cue to wind down, rest, and repair itself.
5. Set up a bedtime ritual. There are many things you can do before bed to help you sleep, depending on your lifestyle and needs. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts—the magnesium is super helpful for muscle relaxation and sleep. Drink chamomile tea, a naturally warming and calming remedy. Do some light reading. Take up a breathing practice. Focusing on your breath and clearing your mind, even for just a few minutes is a great de-stressor.
Whatever works for you as ritual, do it every night—it doesn’t have to be long or elaborate—even a 5-7 minute routine can do wonders in calming your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
6. Journal out your day. Spend a few minutes each night writing out how your day went, express gratitude for the things that went well, and release and forgive the things that disappointed you. This is an extraordinarily helpful practice. By getting all that mental clutter out onto paper, your mind can more easily let go of it.
7. Listen to a self hypnosis or meditation audio. I just released a Sleep Well self hypnosis, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Sleep Well is a 1-hour self hypnosis audio with a sleep ending so you can just turn it on, relax and get right to sleep. Self Hypnosis is extraordinarily helpful for many things you’d like to correct, including insomnia. By quieting the Conscious Mind, and making positive suggestions to the impressionable Unconscious Mind, you can make lasting changes to almost any area of your life!
Sleep is so, so important to mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health and well-being. Use any or all of these suggestions to help you sleep better, and watch your most Bliss-filled life emerge.