Most of us spend about a third of our lives in bed. However, for many people getting a good nights sleep isn’t as easy at it sounds. If you struggle to get to sleep, toss and turn in bed for long periods throughout the night, or just wake up feeling tired and restless, than it’s very possible that you are sabotaging your sleeping routine by not following one or more of the keys to a better night’s sleep.
Whether it is making changes to your bedroom environment, developing some simple mindset sleeping strategies, taking regular herbs or supplements, getting a medical check for hormonal imbalances or nutrient deficiencies, taking certain and specific actions, transforming your nutritional habits, or simply avoiding the things that are known to interfere with our sleeping patterns — the keys to a better night’s sleep may have the answers for you.
Cultivate these keys and apply them into your new sleeping routine and you will sleep better and more soundly than ever before.
This post is for information purposes only. Please seek the guidance of your alternative health physician before undertaking any strenuous exercise, herbal or nutritional program.
Your Sleeping Environment
The environment within which we sleep on a nightly basis is absolutely critical in the ongoing promotion of better sleeping habits and patterns. If our sleeping environment is substandard and does not fall inline with our biological needs, than it will simply interfere with our sleeping patterns and as a result we will suffer the consequences by getting inadequate amounts of quality sleep. Here are some suggestions on things you can do to enhance your sleeping environment to promote a better and a more restful night’s sleep:
Remove Clocks from View
On nights when we just can’t seem to get to sleep, what is it that we tend to do? That’s right, we stare at the clock every 10 minutes and stress every second about how tired we’ll feel the next day if we don’t fall asleep right NOW! In instances such as this, your clock is simply a liability on your time.
Firstly, remove your clock from sight.
Secondly commit yourself to the fact that you don’t need to know the time unless it is time to get out of bed. Understand that you are in control of your life, and that no clock is going to take that away from you.
Remove All EMF Fields
EMF stands for Electro-Magnetic Fields. EMFs are released by electronic appliances that are present within your sleeping environment. EMFs are known to disrupt the pineal gland and interfere with the production of melatonin and serotonin, which are essential in promoting good sleeping patterns. Either remove all electronic appliances such as televisions, stereos, and computers from your bedroom or unplug them from their power-supply.
Some sleeping doctors strongly suggest that people should pull their circuit breaker before heading-off to bed in order to kill all power in the house.
We all know what it feels like to step outside in the early hours of the morning and just breathe in that fresh crisp air. It feels so invigorating and enlivening. Well, the same principles apply at night as you are sleeping. Our bodies require good amounts of fresh air to promote a greater sense of health and well-being. By closing your windows at night you are doing your body a great deal of injustice by suffocating its oxygen supply.
If opening the window at nights isn’t an option, consider purchasing an air filter or purifier.
Darkness is Essential
If you are not sleeping in complete darkness, than you are interfering with your body’s circadian rhythm. Any small amount of light that reflects or shines into your bedroom will disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
When getting up at night, you should also avoid turning on the lights whenever possible. If this isn’t an option, than purchase a low volt bulb that emits as little light as possible. The less the better. You will find that by following these simple guidelines that your sleep will be more restful and sound.
As Quiet as a Mouse
Some of us have a tendency to fall asleep while watching television or listening to the radio. Even though in these instances you might have fallen asleep, it however doesn’t promote a restful type of sleep.
In order to achieve a deep and prolonged nights sleep, you must ensure that you remove all sounds and distractions from your sleeping environment. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, which we will explore a little later.
Keep Temperature at Comfortable Levels
The temperature within your sleeping environment should be at no more than 22 °C / 70 °F. Any higher than this and biologically your body will feel discomfort and this may interfere with your sleeping patterns.
Comfortable Pillow and Mattress
Since most of us spend about one third of our lives in bed, it just makes sense to purchase a good quality pillow and mattress that will support us where we need it most.
Everybody is different and requires varying levels of support. Visit a sleep specialist or chiropractor for further information about getting the right sleeping support for your body. Investing wisely here could be one of the best decisions you make.
A Sleeper’s Mindset
Those who tend to sleep soundly each and every night have developed a number of mindset strategies that promote a deeper and faster onset of sleep. Here are some suggestions that will assist you in taking control of your mind:
Control the Voice in Your Head
When we have a lot on our minds, many problems to deal with and uncertain plans for the day ahead, we can easily get lost in a river of thought that just keeps going and going, until it literally overwhelms us and sabotages our sleep. Take control of this voice by making a pact with yourself that as soon as you lie down to bed you will not think about any problems or plans that may be lingering on your mind. If you do lie down to bed and your mind just gets out of control, simply get out of bed and write your thoughts down on paper. Only once you have exhausted your thought process on paper should you venture back into bed.
Focus on Staying Awake
It’s a reverse form of psychology. Instead of tossing and turning and trying to get to sleep, simply keep your eyes open and focus on the fact that you are going to be staying awake for the rest of the night. This strategy really works as long as you don’t start thinking about other things that are on your mind. The key here is to focus only on the process of staying awake.
Visualize Tranquility and Serenity
Deep within the recesses of your mind create a quiet, serene and tranquil place where you can spend time relaxing. Whether this is somewhere on a secluded beach, in the outback or simply by a creek or mountainside; create this place in your mind and return here every night just as you are falling asleep. Absorb yourself within the beauty of this environment, experience all the nature sounds and the seclusion that you are currently experiencing from the rest of humanity. Actually take-in this place through all your senses, and just relax and bathe within the magnificence of this environment you have created.
Through the process of just relaxing within this environment you will discover that your body will find the peace and tranquility necessary to slip into a deep and restful nights sleep.
Get Out of Bed if Unable to Sleep
Yes, literally get out of bed if you are unable to fall asleep within the first 20 to 25 minutes. When you do get out of bed make sure to do something mellow that doesn’t stimulate your brain to a significant degree. Reading a book or simply undertaking a boring task or activity that doesn’t require much movement or thought, will tend to paralyze your brain back into sleeper’s state.
At times no matter what we do, we just simply do not know why we are unable to fall asleep or why we wake up feeling very tired and lethargic. If this sounds like you than you may find it helpful taking a combination of herbal supplements, utilizing natural therapies or maybe even getting a medical checkup, which will assist in identifying possible mineral or nutrient deficiencies.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
There are a number of herbs that have been found to be very helpful in promoting a good night’s sleep. These herbs include:
- Lemon Balm
See your alternative health professional for further information. You may also like to visit your local health food store and purchase some herbal teas that contain a combination of these herbs for promoting better sleep.
Acupuncture is known to be effective in assisting with the establishment of better sleep patterns. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used for the treatment of insomnia. For those who are not familiar with this process, it involves inserting fine needles into the skin at specific acupuncture points in order to influence the functioning of the body.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is an interesting natural therapy that simply involves the act of gently tapping certain areas of the body several minutes per day. It works by balancing your body’s bio-energy system while resolving some of the emotional stresses that may be contributing to your insomnia at a deep level. EFT is known to be very effective and the results are usually long lasting.
For further information about EFT, please visit the World Center for EFT.
Get a Medical Checkup
If all else fails, it is worthwhile to get a medical checkup at your local GP or Natural Medicine Clinician. Ask your doctor to check your adrenals, hormones, and iron levels. All of which could be aggravating your sleeping patterns and causing insomnia. Melatonin hormone supplements have also been found to be helpful in some cases.
Sleep Promoting Actions
What you do throughout the day is just as important as what you do at night when it comes to promoting good sleeping patterns and habits. Certain activities throughout the day, before bedtime and within bed, will help you to establish good habits and rituals that will assist and improve your sleep. Here are some suggestions that will point you in the right direction:
During the Day
The actions discussed within this section should be undertaken throughout your day. Consistently and persistently partaking in these activities can help improve sleeping patterns while promoting deeper and a more restful night’s sleep.
Getting a good amount of regular exercise throughout your week is a great way to improve your sleeping habits as it helps to induce bedtime drowsiness. Studies have consistently shown that people who undertake regular exercise experience a deeper and more restful sleep than those who don’t. Physical exercise such as running, cycling or swimming are effective, however you should also try Tibetan Yoga and Tai Chi which provide the body with additional biological benefits. Ideally you should exercise early during the day or at least 3 to 4 hours before going to sleep.
Because of all this talk about skin cancer, people are now starting to avoid sun exposure altogether, not realizing that sun exposure is essential for our ongoing health and well-being. By exposing yourself to the sun for up to two hours per day will help regulate your body’s natural biological clock which will improve your sleeping patterns. However, make sure that you always wear protective sunscreen and you avoid sunburn at all costs.
Writing out your thoughts about your sleeping habits, patterns, goals and routine helps some people to proactively gain control and effectively manage their sleep.
Throughout our day we tend to experience natural rises and falls in our energy levels. During the falls it can be quite satisfying to take a short power nap of no more than 20 to 25 minutes. This will increase your energy levels and help you catch up on lost sleep.
Being overweight can significantly increase your risk of suffering from sleep apnea. This in turn will prevent you from experiencing a restful nights sleep. Therefore, make sure you get enough exercise and eat the correct foods in order to get on top of your weight-loss goals.
Before Heading off to Bed
The actions discussed within this section should be undertaken before heading off to bed. Consistently and persistently partaking in these activities can help improve sleeping patterns while promoting deeper and a more restful night’s sleep.
Visit the Toilet
How many times have you had a lot to drink just before going to bed and then woke up at night because of biological urges? A simple solution is to simply make sure you go to the toilet before heading off to bed.
Schedule Early Sleep
Our body’s natural biological clock has been thrown out of balance because of modern electricity and lighting. Naturally our body is biologically prepared to go to sleep at about 10:00pm and wakes up at sunrise at around 6:00am. Being awake between these periods interferes with the body’s process of dumping toxins. Moreover, this will sabotage a restful nights sleep and may leave you feeling sluggish and tired in the morning.
Do whatever you can to gradually schedule your sleeping patterns to coincide between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Begin by going to bed about 15 minutes earlier each week up until you are consistently in bed by 10pm.
Lightly stretching the body before heading off to bed can promote a deeper and more restful nights sleep.
It is important that you gradually ease into the process of winding down to bed. This can be achieved through a combination of relaxation exercises that put you at ease and into a sleepy state. Whether you want to give yourself a massage, prefer to meditate, read a spiritual book, or simply listen to soft music; whatever you choose does not matter, as long as it provides you with a relaxing and soothing experience.
By developing a nightly relaxation routine you will successfully prepare and condition your mind for prolonged and deep sleep.
The actions discussed within this section should be undertaken while lying in bed. Consistently and persistently partaking in these activities can help improve sleeping patterns while promoting deeper and a more restful night’s sleep.
Stay Warm Yet Cool
If you are cold you will not be able to sleep. On the other hand if you are too hot you will also suffer the consequences of lost sleep. Therefore, stay cool by lowering the temperature within your bedroom, or by covering yourself with just a thin sheet. Likewise, stay warm by wearing socks to bed or covering yourself with another blanket. As a rule of thumb, make sure that you are comfortable; never too hot or cold at any time.
By headgear I don’t mean a helmet. Rather, wear an eye-mask if there is too much light within your bedroom, or wear ear-plugs if there is too much noise outside the bedroom.
Listen to White Noise
If you are struggling to deal with a noisy neighbor or partner (the snorer in the family), than one way to numb the sounds is to listen to white noise. Turn on a fan or an ocean MP3 that will relax you — effectively numbing external sounds. There are also plenty of free mobile and tablet apps that can assist you with this.
That’s it, just sleep. Many people read, watch TV, talk with others, and eat in bed. Do not allow your brain the freedom to associate your bed to anything else but sleeping. This by itself can dramatically improve your sleep as you begin to associate just sleeping with your mattress and pillow.
Sleeper’s Nutritional Guidelines
It is a well known fact that what we ingest affects our body in immeasurable ways. By following some very simple nutritional guidelines you can dramatically improve the depth and restfulness of your sleep. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
Drink Warm Milk
Did your mum ever give you warm milk before bed? If so, than how good did that make you feel? In small quantities milk has a very soothing effect on the body. By drinking a glass of warm milk just before bedtime, can soothe and relax both the body and mind.
Drink Fewer Liquids
This one is very simple. The more liquids you drink within 1 to 2 hours before bed, the greater your chances of waking up at night. It’s what Bart Simpson does to force himself to wake up early in the morning during Christmas.
Eat an Early Dinner
Have you ever gone to bed on a very full stomach? Was your sleep restful?
If your body is doing the majority of its digestion at night, you will most likely wake up feeling sluggish and fatigued. The body’s nightly biological routine involves the process of repairing muscles, tissues and bones. These processes require blood to be redirected to these areas. If the majority of your blood is being directed towards the digestion of food, than you will suffer the consequences the next day. By eating a light dinner at least 3 hours before heading off to bed will assist in promoting deep and restful sleep.
Eat High Protein Snack
By eating a high protein snack a few hours before bed will increase the production of melatonin and serotonin. This will promote a deeper and more restful nights sleep.
Avoid Sleep Saboteurs
Developing good sleeping patterns and habits has got as much to do with what you do as it does with the things you should avoid doing. Here are some things you should avoid doing if you desire to effectively manage your sleep:
Avoid Tossing and Turning
The moment you begin tossing and turning in bed, you should take it as a sign that you are not going to fall asleep anytime soon. Get up immediately or try one or more of the techniques and strategies discussed within this post.
Avoid Prolonged Napping
If you take a nap for longer than 30 minutes your body will begin to enter a deep sleeping state. Awaking from this state will leave you feeling sluggish and may interfere with your biological clock. This means that when it’s time to go to sleep at night your body may instead want to run a marathon.
Avoid Brain Stimulation
Avoid all brain stimulating activities 1 or 2 hours before heading off to bed. Activities such as watching television, finishing off work related tasks, or simply stressing about something will impact your sleeping pattern in negative ways.
Avoid Consuming Sugars and Grains
Both grains and sugars will affect your sleep in destructive ways. You may initially fall asleep after ingesting sugar, however later at night when your blood sugar levels drop too low, you may wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
Avoid Sleep Interfering Toxins
Sleep interfering toxins such as caffeine, sleeping pills, smoking and alcohol, may initially make you feel relaxed and drowsy, however, long-term they will prevent you from experiencing a deep, unbroken and restful nights sleep.
Through consistent application of these key steps to a better nights sleep you are likely to experience a gradual improvement in your sleeping patterns over the course of several weeks and months. The secret is to be persistent and to try out as many strategies as possible. Some will obviously work better for you than others at different times. Once you have established what works and what doesn’t, you will have unlocked the key to a better nights sleep.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any further thoughts, ideas, reflections or suggestions about this topic, than please feel free to comment below.
Gain More Knowledge…
Here are a number of highly recommended free articles and online resources that will further help expand your understanding about this topic:
- Trouble Sleeping – 10 Rules to Sleep Properly @ I Need Motivation
- Top 10 Ways to Power Nap Smarter and Better @ Ririan Project
- How to Sleep More Effectively Starting Tonight @ Ririan Project
- 9 Little Known Ways to Sleep so it Counts @ Ririan Project
- 8 Tools for 8 Hours of Energy Boosting Sleep @ Ririan Project
- 10 Tips for a Good Nights Sleep Without Pills @ Lifehack
- 9 Great Tricks to Help You Sleep Like a Baby @ We the Change
- Stressed Sleep: How to Stop Stressing About Work at Night @ The Daily Mind
- Common Mistakes Made While Forming a Sleep Pattern @ Avani Mehta
- 31 Sleeping Lifehacks for Helping You Sleep Minus the Sheep @ Aim for Awesome
- Can’t Sleep at Night: Here’s What to do… @ Life Learning Today
- How to Sleep When It’s Noisy Outside @ The Daily Mind
- 5 Ways to Fall Asleep Quicker @ Dumb Little Man
- 5 Unusual Ways to Achieve Super Quality Sleep @ Pick the Brain
- The Ultimate Guide to Getting Great Sleep @ Practical Personal Development
- 4 Ways to Get Great Sleep @ Pick the Brain
- The Magic of a Good Nights Sleep, & How to Finally Get One @ Motivate Thy Self
- 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips: How to Get to Sleep & Stay Asleep @ Cultivate Greatness
- The Magical Light to Make You Sleep Well @ Cruch Geer
- 6 Unexpected Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep @ Slow Down Fast
- Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4 Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health by Dr. Michael Breus
- Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping Through the Night by Barry Krakow
- How to Sleep Soundly Tonight: 250 Simple and Natural Ways to Prevent Sleeplessness by Barbara L. Heller