So, here on Body+Soul, weíve discussed the bodyís need for sleep before. But, letís revisit the issue. So itís been a long day and you are more than sufficiently tired and you want to get that sleep your body craves. Yet, here you lay in bed, wondering why the heck you just canít seem to fall asleep. A night of insomnia does not a happy person make! So, here are a few helpful tips on how to avoid sleepless nights.
Darkness = Time to Sleep. When itís dark, our bodies naturally secrete melatonin, a biochemical which makes us feel sleepy and relaxed. Does it mean that sleeping when it is still light out is impossible? As the Queen of Cat Naps, I can definitely answer that with a resounding no. Yet and still, with melatonin secretion playing such a big role in our sleep-wake cycle, minimizing light exposure before bed is worth it. So try it; dim the lights an hour before bed and then turn them off completely when youíre ready to knock out. It can really make a difference in helping you to fall and stay asleep.
Keep it Moving
If youíve ever taken care of an active little one, you know that one of the greatest ways to ensure that they (and you!) get a full nightís sleep is to keep them busy during the day. The more energy expended during daylight hours, the easier itíll be to get to sleep at night. So, if the night times give you trouble, stay as active as possible all day and tire yourself out! Just be sure to finish up with strenuous exercise a couple hours before you head to bed.
Cut it Out
Most of us know that caffeine is a stimulant, hence the generalized addiction to it, specifically in the morning. So it makes sense, to most of us, that it should be avoided the few hours leading up to bedtime. Alcohol, however, might be a bit of a surprise. Although it has the tendency to make us sleepy, it also has the potential of causing a restless nightís sleep or to cause you to awaken earlier. As far as caffeine elimination is concerned, remember that, at times, itís found in over-the-counter medications we may take like Midol, Excedrin, etc.
If itís too hot or too cold, falling and staying asleep can be a bit of a challenge. Studies show that temperatures below 54 F and above 72 F make sleeping harder. Even the linens you choose to use can affect your body temperature, so bear that in mind (breathable bed linens are best!). Also, be sure that the mattress and pillow you choose to use are comfortable for you too. We spend a lot of time in bed, so make sure it feels good when you are there.
So you got all cuddled up in bed and fell asleep. A couple of hours go by and now youíre wide awake in bed watching the second hand of your clock. Donít be afraid to get up and try again. Find a mellow activity like reading a book or listen to some mood music and allow that to lull you back to sleep.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, run it by your healthcare provider, and see what s/he has to say. They are familiar with you and your medical history, and can provide great advice as to how to take the best possible care of your body.
Shari Grant is a Registered Nurse in South Florida, where she was raised in a (very!) Jamaican home. Some of the loves of her life are words (both reading and writing them) and missions work. She enjoys spending time with friends and family while living for a good laugh - one that makes her belly ache and her eyes water. Her bottom line goal in life is to make the Lord smile and maybe even serve Him up a chuckle from time to time, too.