Sometimes we are having a hard time falling asleep. Many of us are struggling the whole night to stay asleep. It should not be like this.
Lack of sleep means more stress on the body that leads to weight gain, hormone imbalances, infertility, premature aging, hair loss, and lowered immune function.
Balanced hormones production helps the human body to improve the sleep as well. As you know, animals don’t have trouble sleeping and waking up in the morning. People toss and turn the whole night and most of the times they have to take pills to solve their sleep problem.
Melatonin production (sleep hormone) is essential for your body. Other hormones, released during waking hours, regulate the proper functioning of melatonin. Serotonin is one of the hormones that influence melatonin level. The endocrine system is a complex system. If the hormone production in your body is imbalanced, then your sleep will be affected in the long term.
Stress hormones influence the sleep cycle. Lack of sleep can increase the level of stress hormone, and stress hormone can generate sleep issues.
Consider these simple tips to improve your sleep. Start by setting up a sleep schedule and make sure you include physical activity in your daily routine.
Many factors can interfere with your good night’s sleep such as:
- unexpected challenges
- pressure at work
- relationship issues
- family responsibilities
It is not always easy to control all of the factors that change your sleep pattern, but you can adopt habits that can improve your sleep. Here are some simple sleep tips.
Respect a sleep schedule
Make sure you go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day. Respect this sleep schedule even in weekends, holidays and your days off. If you adopt this routine, your body will get used to a particular sleep-wake cycle, and you will be able to sleep like a baby the whole night. If it is hard for you to fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and start doing something relaxing (read a book, listen to some music, and do breathing exercises). Go back to bed when you feel tired.
Make sure you don’t eat and drink too much before bed
It is recommended to avoid going to bed hungry or stuffed. Your stomach cramps might keep you up. Also, avoid drinking too much before bed. You prevent the unwanted trips to the toilet in the middle of the night.
The substances you should avoid before sleep are: caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. After you smoke or you drink coffee, you will be stimulated for hours. This thing might affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol can be tricky. It might make you feel sleepy at first, but you will wake up later during the night.
Create your bedtime ritual
Respect a bedtime routine each night. By doing the same things you tell the body, it’s time to go to sleep. You can read a book, or take a warm and relaxing bath. Keep your lights dimmed to tell your organism to wind down. These activities can stimulate a better sleep because they make the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
It is recommended to avoid watching TV. Turn off other electronic devices as well. Some studies showed that screen time before bedtime would change your sleep pattern.
Create an atmosphere in your room that invites you to relax. Make sure the room is cool, dark and quiet. You can use specific shades for this purpose, earplugs, and a fan.
It is essential that you sleep on comfortable mattress and pillow. If you sleep with a partner, make sure there’s enough room for both of you. If you have children or pets, avoid sleeping with them too often. You can create separate quarters for them.
Don’t sleep too much during the day
Long daytime naps can disrupt nighttime sleep. You should avoid taking naps during the day if you have problems with insomnia. If you feel like napping during the day, set a limit of 10 to 30 minutes.
If you work in night shifts, you need to sleep during the day. In this case, keep your window covered so that sunlight doesn’t interrupt your daytime sleep.
If you work in shifts, you might want to consider this:
- Keep the lights bright at the office
- Take naps and make sure you sleep enough hours
- Turn off all devices in your bedroom during daytime sleep
- Limit shift changes so your body can get used to this sleep routine
- Avoid drinking coffee in the first part of your shift
If you still have difficulties falling asleep during the day or you cannot adapt to a shift-work schedule, consult your doctor about alternatives to help you sleep.
Make sure you exercise daily
Respecting a physical routine can improve your sleep, and it helps you to fall asleep faster. Make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime. If you feel too energized, you are not going to be able to fall asleep. It is wiser to practice your fitness training earlier in the day.
Do not spend your night watching the clock
If you keep looking at a clock in your bedroom, when you are struggling to fall asleep, can increase your stress. You will have a harder time to fall asleep. Remove the clock from your nightstand or keep it in other room.
Use light to your advantage
Natural light helps your body to adjust to a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let the light come in first thing in the morning and get out of the building during the day for a sun break.
Keep the stress under control
When you are thinking about a lot of things, your sleep can be affected. To keep your sleep routine in balance, find healthy ways to manage your stress. You can get organized, set priorities and write down on a piece of paper any tasks that you might be thinking of before bedtime. Feel free to take a break once in a while. Talking with an old friend and laughing about past experiences is a good idea if you want to relax.
It is recommended to avoid stimulating and stressful activities. Make sure you postpone for another time discussing any emotional issues. When you are involved in stressful activities your body will secrete the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can increase your alertness.
You can include these easy tips in your daily and nightly routine. If you follow them daily, you will have better chances to improve the quality of your sleep. Many people deal with various sleep disorders such as abnormal sleep behavior problems, excessive daytime sleepiness disorders, and circadian rhythm sleep issues.1
If your insomnia persists contact your doctor
Having sleepless nights is normal. But if your sleep problems get serious is better to talk to your health provider. He can identify and treat the causes of your insomnia. You deserve to have a good night sleep.
Doctors might have a hard time identifying sleep problems during routine office visits because you are awake. You should tell your doctor all your symptoms.
For example, let him know if you often feel sleepy during the day, if you find it difficult adapting to shift work, and don’t wake up feeling refreshed and alert.
To understand better your sleep problem, your health provider will try to understand better your sleep habits. Before you pay a visit to the doctor’s office, answer to these common questions he might want to ask you:
- What time you go to bed and wake up on days off and workdays?
- How long it takes you to drift into sleep, you wake up often at night and do you fall back asleep quickly?
- How often you have trouble sleeping and when this problem started?
- How often you feel like dozing off or having trouble staying awake during regular tasks such as driving?
- Does it happen to snore loudly and waking up suddenly feeling out of breath?
- How rested you feel when you wake up, and how tired you feel during the day?
The doctor will ask questions about your work and physical routine. He also might ask if you consume tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, or if you are taking any pills (supplements or pharmaceutical).
To give all the necessary information to your doctor, start writing a sleep diary for a couple of weeks. Write down information about your sleep pattern and behavior (when you go to bed, what time you wake up, and how many times a day you take naps).
It is recommended to write other information as well such as how much you sleep during the night, how refreshed you feel in the morning, and if you feel like dozing off at various times during the day. Let your doctor know about all these things.
Doctors can determine the right diagnose by asking questions about your sleep schedules and by getting information from your sleep partner or family members. Sometimes, doctors also use sleep studies and other medical tests to determine the cause of your sleep disorder.
Sleep studies are excellent tools for the doctor. He can measure how much and how well you sleep. They also show if you have sleep issues and how serious they are.
Your doctor will examine you physically to make sure you do not have other medical problems that might keep you awake at night. He will ask you to do some blood tests as well to check if there are any thyroid problems or other health issues that can cause disrupted sleep at night.23
Foods to improve sleep naturally
What you eat can improve the quality of your sleep. Here are a few foods that you can consume to improve the quality of your sleep:
Proteins (especially for dinner meals): If you want to rest well, it is better to stop eating 4 hours before bedtime. You can eat your last meal of the day around 6 pm every evening. Adopt a diet that includes vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. If you consume the right amount of protein at this meal will support the body to adjust to the sleep cycle.
High antioxidant foods– The antioxidant foods are perfect for hormone production. They help the body to remove toxins that can disrupt the sleep. Make sure you eat enough high nutrient fruits, vegetables, and herbal or green teas.
Healthy fats– These fats can help your organism to produce sleep hormones. You can consume organic, and pasture raised meats, eggs, coconut oil, avocado, and butter.
These are the foods you should avoid if you have sleep problems:
Vegetable oils – It is recommended not to eat vegetable oils at all. These artificial fats can cause various skin conditions and can create imbalances in the sleep hormone production.
Sugars: It is better to avoid consuming sugars and carbohydrates at night. They can increase the blood sugar and will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. If you crave carbs in the evening, you might have a hormone problem. If you consume sugar before bedtime, you will have trouble falling asleep, and you will wake up in the middle of the night when blood sugar levels drop.
Grains – You should avoid eating these foods especially if you have a have gluten intolerance. It can cause physical stress in the body and will affect your hormone cycle.
Supplements to improve sleep naturally
Most of the time it’s difficult to get enough nutrients from foods. Picking fruits and vegetables before ripe is a standard technique when big companies want to ship their products around the world. Nutritionists recommend consuming dietary supplements as well if you want to get the necessary amount of nutrients for the healthy functioning of your body.
Fermented cod liver – The vitamins A, D, K plus the Omega three fatty acids stimulate the hormone production and they can improve sleep. It seems like this combination helps balance other hormones as well and is ideal for growing children.
Take once in a while a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. You can consume them in a cup of herbal tea. They help the body to make sleep hormones.
Magnesium – If you are deficient in magnesium, this can affect the quality of your sleep.
Gelatin – Many people eat large amounts of animal muscle meat and fewer organ meats, bone broths, and marrow. If you don’t like eating liver, drink natural gelatin. Most of the muscle meats have a high content of stress hormones. Cortisol can cause problems in the sleep cycle. You can drink a cup of chamomile tea with a tablespoon of gelatin dissolved in it. Consume it each night a couple of hours before bed.
If you have a healthy diet, and you still have sleep problems, then try some herbs. They will help you fall asleep faster. Chamomile and catnip tinctures are great if you want to relax.
Improve your sleep with cold therapy
Dr. Jack Kruse is the man who made this therapy famous. Some specialists wrote about this technique as a remedy for tumors and heart issues.
You can make a cold bath (below 60 degrees), or you can also use an ice pack on the front and back of the neck. This method will help you sleep like a rock.
Ways to apply the cold therapy
- After dinner, you can sit with ice packs on the front and back of your neck. Keep them in those areas for 30 minutes
- After dinner, dip your face in a bowl of freezing water (about 50 degrees). Hold the face underwater for up to 30 seconds. This technique helps you relax and sleep better during the night.4