In my last blog, ‘Reset With A Good Night’s Rest’, I wrote about the signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation. If any of that information resonated with you enough to become concerned with your sleeping habits, then the next question you may have is, “What can I do to get a good night’s sleep”? Well, there are several ways to go about creating a sleep routine that maximizes your quality of rest. Below I will share some tips I have found that you can incorporate into your nightly routine. In addition to the wonderful suggestions such as turn off cell phone, going to bed at the same time every night, and journaling given in another blog entitled, ‘Sleep Hygiene’, (https://counselingmatters.live/2018/06/08/sleep-hygiene/) written by Ashley Fazekas a former Olive Branch intern, there are several other changes that you can make to get the type of sleep your body deserves every night!
Upon my research, I came across an article from https://counselingmatters.live/2018/06/08/sleep-hygiene/ that gives several tips to get a good night’s rest. I will now share some of those tips with you:
1. Increase Bright Light Exposure During The Day – Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. Try getting daily sunlight exposure or — if this is not practical — invest in an artificial bright-light device or bulbs.
2. Don’t Consume Caffeine Late in the Day – When consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended especially if you are sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping. If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.
3. Reduce Irregular or Long Daytime Naps – Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night. Long daytime naps may impair sleep quality. If you have trouble sleeping at night, stop napping or shorten your naps.
4. Take a Melatonin Supplement – Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed. In one study, 2 mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day and helped people fall asleep faster. In another study, half of the group fell asleep faster and had a 15% improvement in sleep quality. Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance, and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it is advised that you check with a medical professional before use. You should also speak with a healthcare provider if you’re thinking about using melatonin as a sleep aid for your child, as long-term use of this supplement in children has not been well studied.
- Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid in sleep, relaxation and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited. Take 250 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.
- Glycine: A few studies show that 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality.
- Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
- Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
- L-theanine: An amino acid, l-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before bed.
- Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool.
Make sure to only try these supplements one at a time. While they are no magic bullet for sleep issues, they can be useful when combined with other natural sleeping strategies.
6. Don’t Drink Alcohol – Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm. Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
7. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment – To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place.
8. Don’t Eat Late in the Evening – Late-night eating may negatively impact both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin. Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help, such as those with a high carb intake.
9. Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower – Relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths and meditation, may help you fall asleep. Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia. In one study, a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in people who were ill. Different strategies you can include are: listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing and visualization. Try several out and see which works for you.
10. Rule Out a Sleep Disorder – An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems. One common issue is sleep apnea, which causes inconsistent and interrupted breathing. People with this disorder stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping. Other common medically diagnosed issues include sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders, which are common in shift workers. If you’ve always struggled with sleep, it may be wise to consult with your doctor.
For a full list of tips, please visit, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better#section14 where you will find more in-depth information and suggestion. As stated several times before, when embarking on a new journey with your health, please seek the advice from your therapist and doctor before making any major changes, especially when taking new supplements. Going forward, invest in yourself by giving your body time to rejuvenate and heal itself. Hopefully, these tips can get you started on a wonderful journey to dreamland!
Intern, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.