It seems all of us have a problem creating habits to get a better night’s sleep at some stage of our lives. Parents with newborns, toddlers who won’t sleep in their beds or the worries of the world making us toss and turn at night stopping us from getting a good night’s sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep can have such a positive effect on your overall health. Here are my 5 tips to create habits for the elusive better night’s sleep.

1. Create a restful environment

Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Consider using room darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.

When working from home this may be more challenging especially if you’re stuck using your bedroom as an office but ultimately one of the most important things to promote good sleep. 

2. Consider help from supplements

For my clients I recommend Magnesium glycinate 200 mg at supper and another 200 mg an hour before your bedtime. 

Magnesium has been known to:

  • Help make it easier to fall asleep
  • Improve sleep quality, and
  • Reduce symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which can interfere with a good night’s sleep.

One of my favourite supplements to recommend is a melatonin + 5 HTP + L- theanine. The reason I like this one so much is:

  • L-Theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea leaves and it promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to a number of changes in the brain.
  • L-Theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine.
  • 5-HTP supports the production of serotonin, an important substance for healthy nerve and brain function and the normal regulation of mood and normal sleep patterns.
  • These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they work in the brain to regulate emotions, mood, and sleep; increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals promotes relaxation and can help with sleep.
  • Melatonin acts as a natural aid for healthy sleep regulation and the promotion of normal sleep cycles.

3. Avoid use of light-emitting screens 1-2 hours before bedtime

A client of mine simply used the night time feature on her phone to shut down access to apps and felt the improvement in her energy within days. As tempting as it can be, looking at phones in bed is not helping your sleep. 

Electronic back-lit devices like cell phones, tablets, readers, and computers send out short-wavelength enriched light, also known as blue light. Blue light been shown to reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening and decrease feelings of sleepiness.

Blue light can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.

Source: Sleep Foundation

Some ways you can decrease the use of light-emitting devices to help you sleep are:

  • Decrease your daytime and nighttime electronics use: Aim to limit the number of hours per day, and night, you use electronics if you are suffering from lack of sleep
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine: Start your bedtime routine at least an hour before your actual designated sleep time.
  • Make your bedroom a screen-free zone: This also includes television, laptops and any other electronic device. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.
  • Keep the bedroom lights dim: Use lower wattage light bulbs or install a dimmer on your bedroom light. Low wattage light bulbs in your bedside lamps will also help.
  • Use Nighttime Mode: If you must use your phone, change it to “nighttime mode”. It is much easier on the eyes before bed.
  • Invest in “Blue Blocker” Glasses: As a last resort, and if you must use your device before bedtime, you can purchase orange-tinted eyeglasses specifically designed to shield your eyes from blue light emissions. This may not be ideal, especially if you don’t like wearing glasses, but some studies have found them to be very effective. 

4. Avoid alcohol before bedtime

Having that late night tipple might actually cause fragmented sleep, insomnia or possibly more serious sleep issues.

If you have alcohol in your system at bedtime, you may not sleep very deeply, or for very long. You may even drift into sleep on and off throughout the night. That’s because as alcohol starts to metabolize, the sedative effect wears off.

Drinking alcohol before bedtime might even cause long term effects on your sleep like:

Vivid dreams and nightmares: With alcohol in your system you’re more likely to have intense, vivid dreams and nightmares as you sleep patterns ebb and flow. You may or may not remember them, but they can be lucid or give you a feeling that you are half awake and half asleep. Because at some point, you might actually be.

Sleepwalking and parasomnias: You may experience moving a lot or talking while you’re sleeping. There’s a chance you’ll physically act out your dreams in your sleep, or even sleepwalk. You may also experience parasomnias which are disruptive sleep disorders that occur in specific stages of sleep or in sleep-wake transitions. These can happen during arousals from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

Breathing problems: Since alcohol’s sedative effect extends to your entire body, including your muscles, it may allow your airway to close more easily while you’re asleep. This can greatly increase the risk of sleep apnea especially if you drink within the last couple of hours before bedtime.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

5. Practice stress reduction techniques

Stress reduction techniques have been coming up in almost every session with my clients lately. Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.

Here are six different stress reduction techniques to try.

Conclusion

Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for you overall health as is eating nutrient rich food, fresh air, water and exercise. The benefits include helping you stay at a healthy weight, you lower your risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease. It helps to reduce stress and improve your mood and helps you think more clearly. Try the above methods to help you get a better night’s sleep. Should sleep still elude you, seek help from a professional.

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