Tossing and turning. Sleeping, yet waking up exhausted. Waking up during the night. Though these are all common complaints, it doesn’t make them any less aggravating. The trouble is, much of what we do during the day can undermine our ability to sleep at night. So what’s a bleary-eyed person to do?
Make a Few Simple Changes by Day to Snooze Like a Pro at Night.
1. Work in Your Workout
Exercise is one of your best defenses against insomnia, but just don’t do it too close to bedtime. To get the best nighttime sleep benefit, slip your workout in about four to six hours before turning in for the night.
More of a morning person? No problem. Studies show that people are more likely to stick to a routine if they exercise first thing, so if morning’s your sweet spot, keep up the good work.
2. Tuck Your Belly in for the Night
If you want to rest easier tonight, have your biggest meal of the day at lunch. Eat a lighter dinner, at least three hours before bedtime, to insure the digestive process is well under way and starting to wind down before you hit the hay. Eating too close to bedtime forces your body to work overtime, digesting well into the wee hours, when it should be resting.
3. Sack the Late Night Snacks
Late night snacks? Skip them if you want to sleep better tonight. Refined grains and sugars before bed can raise blood sugar levels and overstress the organs involved in hormone regulation. This hormone roller coaster can contribute to waking you up throughout the night as hormone levels fluctuate.
4. Dry up Your Act
Too many liquids can effect how well and how long you sleep. Try not to drink too much before turning in. Generally, limiting liquids in the four hours before bed can help cut down the number of nighttime strolls to the bathroom.
5. Deprive Your Senses a Little
A quiet, dark room is essential to a good night’s sleep; it’s up to you to make it a sleep-promoting space, and fortunately, that’s easy to do. Pick up a pair of blackout curtains to keep the room darker longer or use an old-fashioned sleep mask. To drown out the sounds of the street, the neighbors, your snoring bedmate, or other noise disruptions, try using earplugs, a white noise machine, or a fan that hums.
6. Try a Tad of Melatonin
The occasional dose of melatonin can be helpful when you can’t fall asleep. For many of my patients, melatonin in low doses—a half to two milligrams—for short periods helps regulate sleep rhythms.
7. Let Nutrients Send You into the Arms of Morpheus
Sleep comes easier when you calm the body and mind. Try a nutrient formula that has some calming amino acids, such as L Theanine (100-300 mg), 5 HTP (50-100 mg), GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) (100-400 mg), and some herbs, which also have a sedative effect, like Valerian root (Valeriana Offcinalis), Passion flower (Passifora Incarnata), and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Taking minerals, in particular magnesium (300-500 mg), at night is also helpful.
8. Have a Chat with your Medicine Man or Woman
Ask your doctor if any medications you’re taking could be contributing to your sleeplessness and see if they can suggest a less sleep-disruptive alternative. A few common sleep-stealers: antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, decongestants, asthma medications, and some blood pressure medicines.
Best wishes for a fantastic sleep!
Dr. Frank Lipman. M.D. is an acclaimed Integrative Physician and the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. For over twenty years, his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their zest for life. Focused on sustainable wellness—instead of quick fixes—he offers patients a customized blend of Western medicine with acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques, physical therapy, and bodywork. In 2010, he developed Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health programs. He is the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again and Total Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.
*Photo by thejbird.October 8, 2012