How to get better sleep
Whether you're an insomniac or just don't feel rested in the morning, quality sleep can be hard to come by.
- •Keep the same hours every nightOur bodies love a good rhythm. Bedtimes aren't just for children! You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you are a true insomniac you should be strict with yourself on this one and stick to your schedule even on weekends and vacations
- •Wind downAfter a day of running around and dealing with all sorts of stresses, your mind and body need time to relax. Read a book, knit, journal, sudoku, do something that is quiet and centering for you
- •ShhhhIf you have a roommate who comes in late, or leaves early, or if you have a loud pet or lots of street noise, these can mess with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. See if there are any changes you can make in your home. Get the dog out of the bed, set some quiet hours with the roommate, etc. If you have noise you can't avoid, try a white noise maker (there are free apps online) or wear ear plugs
- •Keep it coolHaving a cool temperature makes it easier to fall asleep
- •DarknessMake sure you have high quality shades that block out light—especially if you work odd hours and need to sleep when it's light out. Consider night lights if you share a room and the other person is sneaking around the room so that they don't have to use a flashlight/bump into things.
- •Drink less pee moreDon't drink anything right before bed, and make sure you try to pee before you go to bed so you aren't waking up in the middle of the night
- •Natural sleep aidsMelatonin is a hormone the body makes during your circadian cycle to help you fall asleep. You can buy melatonin and take it before bed. Camomile is meant to help calm you and heels you fall asleep. Some people find aroma therapy with essential oils like lavender help them sleep as well
- •Avoid sleeping pillsIt's one thing to take some Benadryl or zzzquil from time to time—that's ok. It's another thing entirely to be using sleep aids like benzodiazepines and hypnotics like ambien. While these medications are safe for short term use, it is easy to get addicted or dependent on them, so it's probably best to avoid them in the first place, except in special circumstances like travel insomnia and following major life events like a death in the family.
- •Don't drink alcohol or smoke at nightAlcohol messes with the quality of your sleep. Avoid drinking late at night and go to sleep sober. Nicotine increases your heart rate and blood pressure so avoid smoking within an hour or so of bedtime
- •Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)There are tons of techniques a trained therapist can teach you and work through with you to improve your sleep. If there isn't a medical cause to your insomnia and it doesn't improve with the techniques above, this is a great option for you!
- •Get testing doneIf you wake up short of breath or others have told you you snore or stop breathing in your sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea keeps you from entering deep sleep and is bad for your heart and lungs. To see if you have this your doctor can order a sleep study. There are also hormonal causes of sleep problems that can be tested for.
- •Racing thoughts?Anxiety is a common cause of insomnia. We all get anxiety-related insomnia sometimes, but if it is happening to you often talk to your doctor because there are great therapy techniques and medications for this