There are certain things, some blatantly obvious things (yes you’ll know what I am talking about as you read on), that you should not be doing before bedtime if you have the slightest issue with insomnia. Avoid these mistakes and you may find yourself snoozing off sooner than you think.
- No caffeine! This one seems all too obvious but yet many people find themselves in the habit of a late afternoon cup of joe or an after-dinner coffee. What you may not know is that this stimulant stays in your body, on average, up to 5 hours. I know that for me personally I have a coffee-cut-off-time of around 2pm or I’m liable to be staring up at the ceiling long after the cows have come home.
- Avoid Alcohol - This can be a tough one for those night owl party-goers out there but alcohol can actually cause disruptions in your brain’s sleeping patterns and it raises your chances of rousing up throughout the night and not allowing your body to rest peacefully through the proper stages of sleep.
- Smoking - True, many people think of smoking as a relaxation method but the problem is that the nicotine is a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep patterns similar to alcohol.
- Hunger (or as I like to call it, the Goldilocks syndrome) - Just as you want to avoid eating a full meal just before you retire for an evening of blissful sleep as this can easily cause indigestion, heartburn and cause insomnia…it is also best to avoid going to bed hungry. If your tummy is empty it is going to continually send signals to your brain asking for a snack thus contributing to your Insomnia. So, not too full…and not too hungry, but just right.
- STRESSED OUT! We already know that stress can cause a variety of issues for your body. Chronic stress can lower your immune system and even raise your risk of disease. It can also play a big role in causing your insomnia. If you lay your head down at night and a flood of thoughts rush through your head about what occurred during the day and what you need to attend to tomorrow, that can make it nearly impossible to sleep. There is a lot of information out there on how to deal with stress…for the sake of this short post my advice is simple; get in the practice of meditation, or a deep breathing exercise, or if you are with your partner perhaps getting a little frisky 😉
- Choose Workout Time Wisely - If you are an avid exerciser you have probably figured out by now that it releases endorphins (aka feel good hormones), which are great for keeping you going during your routine but not so great when done just before you need your body to be shifting into relax and sleep mode. To prevent insomnia, try to limit strenuous activity to at least 2 to 3 hours before you plan on going to sleep (not including the ‘getting frisky’ advice given above of course).
- Too Warm - According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should sleep in a room that is around 65 degrees to get a proper sleep.
- Sorry Fido – Yes, I know your pet is part of the family…I totally get it. BUT…allowing them to sleep in your bed can almost guarantee a poor night’s sleep. You may not notice if you are in a light sleep phase, but your pet’s movements, snoring, warm body temperature etc. can and will prevent you from that deep sleep your body needs.
- Turn it Off - Yep…watching TV in bed is a sure-fire way for restless sleep. It’s not necessarily from the shows you’re watching…I’m sure your latest bout of Netflix binging is gripping, but the actual light from the television itself is telling your brain that it is not time to produce sleep hormones yet. Your brain then refuses to flip the off switch and stays active. Result? Insomnia 1, You 0.
- Turn this off too - You guessed it! Cell phones, iPads, tablets etc. This is pretty widely known by most yet very few people abide by it. Cell phones emit electromagnetic fields which delay your brain’s ability to reach deep sleep patterns. So, do yourself a favor and turn it off or put it in the next room.
- Peppermint Toothpaste? I know it may sound odd but studies have shown that peppermint can actually stimulate the brain which can make it much harder for you to sleep at night. If possible, switch to a non-peppermint toothpaste (spearmint is ok to use).
- Noise - This one can be difficult for those who may live in a big city with uncontrollable noise outside, but the best sleep to be had is one with few interruptions (think cars, sirens, barking dogs etc). If you are unable to block out some of those pesky noises, consider getting a sound machine that can at least provide a more controllable white noise environment to avoid the on-set of your insomnia.
If you can put into practice avoiding these mistakes for your bedtime routine you can rest assured (pun intended) you will have improved your chances of avoiding insomnia and getting a much-needed night of sleep.
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