Periodically, I do have trouble sleeping. I live in a province that does not partake in Day Light Savings time so during the winter, it’s very dark making for short days and in the summer, it’s very bright making for long days (which I never complain about). During those seasonal changes, my body is forced to adjust and so my quality of sleep tends to suffer until I’m fully adjusted.
Last Christmas, Santa gave me a FitBit band that tracks my heart rate, calories burned, daily steps, and even my sleep pattern. It was so interesting to see at what points during the night I was restless, awake, and when I had my best sleeps.
After a couple weeks wearing the band, I began to notice a pattern. On the evenings when I felt most productive and got everything ready for the next day early in the evening, I had my most rested and quality 8-hour sleeps. On the evenings when I waited until the last minute to prepare myself for the next day, it was harder for me to fall asleep and I was much more restless during the night.
Getting a great quality sleep is the first thing that starts your day off right. By having everything ready for the next day, I saved myself time in the morning and in the evening to really take the time to unwind.
Here are some tricks that worked for me to help unwind before bed and get a much needed quality sleep:
This means no cell phones, no computers, no television, not even your tablet for at least an hour before bed. In case you haven’t noticed, the bright screens (also called “blue light”) on our electronic devices actually hinder our natural sleep cycle by supressing the natural production of melatonin. To keep it simple, melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that, among other things, is responsible for regulating sleep cycles and our internal clock. Try reading an actual book instead.
I’m so surprised more people don’t sleep naked. Yes, I ask when the subject comes up. That’s not weird, right? As we sleep, our body temperature naturally decreases as part of something called our Circadian Rhythm. Have you ever noticed when you’re wearing your favourite flannel pyjamas that more often than not, you wake up in a panic sweat? Case and point. Sleeping naked equals no panic sweats. Save your flannel pyjamas for cozy winter nights by the fire.
Remember when I mentioned blue light? That’s the opposite of red light. I’m familiar with red light only because it’s used in the military at night so as not to affect your night vision. But red light also doesn’t negatively affect your natural production of melatonin. Put a piece of red cloth over your lamp, paint your light bulb red, or buy yourself a red reading light.
Why not, right? Specifically in men, have you ever noticed how easily they fall asleep after sex? This is because of a chemical that is released after they climax that actually makes them tired. Don’t take it personally, ladies, they can’t help it.
Warm bath or shower
I have always showered before bed mostly because it gives me an extra 15 minutes in the morning. Not only that, it’s incredibly soothing to climb into bed nice and clean while my body is still warm from the water. I personally find this works for me!
Get rid of the TV in the bedroom
I get this from my mother. She NEVER let me have a television in my bedroom, nor did she allow my father to bring one into their room. To this day, I have never had a television in my room and I’m happy for it. For the handful of times I have slept in a bedroom with one, I was never able to fall asleep properly. See my first point on blue light.
Stop sleeping so much
This is a little odd right? Wrong. Sleeping too much can actually hinder your ability to sleep at night. Try reducing your sleep time by about 15 minutes each night until it’s easier for you to fall asleep at a decent time.
Natural sleep aids
There are always those nights where none of the above makes a difference – you just can’t sleep. That’s when I turn to natural sleep aids. What is an example of a natural sleep aid? You guessed it – melatonin! You can find melatonin tablets in any store that has a vitamin aisle. My personal favourite is Jamieson’s brand. Take one tablet about a half hour before bed and wait. The ingestion of the melatonin will actually trigger your brain to start producing it and so you fall asleep naturally without feeling groggy in the morning (which normally accompanies non-natural sleep aids like Gravol).