11 Tips to a Better Night's Sleep

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I was checking my facebook page and came across a picture of my niece sleeping in a very awkward position in her seat instead of eating her lunch and it reminded me that when I was a kid, I could sleep anywhere: Riding in a car … check. Grandma’s house with no air conditioning … check. On the couch with the TV blaring … check. In class … check check.

As an adult, falling and staying asleep can be a bit more difficult. Now instead of being able to sleep anywhere at any time, we are often laying in bed, tossing and turning, flipping the pillow, throwing the covers off and then on again. Our spouse blissfully unaware sleeping next us while you try to count sheep, relax, meditate, think of something funny … anything to relax and drift off into slumber land.

Well, in case you’re one of the millions of people in this world that toss and turn, here are some tips and tricks that just might help you fall to sleep faster and sleep throughout the night.

  1. What’s your bedtime? - Is it at 11 p.m on Mondays and Tuesdays because your favorite shows are on? Then it is usually 10 p.m. every other day of the week? Stop that! Record your shows and go to bed. When you switch up your sleeping schedule, you throw your body into a fit. Pick the bedtime that is right for you and get to bed…and that means on your days off as well.
  2. Did someone say Cheesecake? - The Golden Girls were in the habit of eating cheesecake when they couldn’t sleep at night ... which is probably why they couldn’t stay asleep in the first place. Eating heavy desserts, drinking caffeine, smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages right before bed can stimulate your body and mind. You might feel sleepy when you have a full belly or after a couple of cocktails after dinner, but chances are you will be up in a couple of hours with a bathroom break or an Alka-Seltzer run. Steer clear for better sleep.
  3. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol - Be a creature of habit. Does reading relax you? Or do you like to take a relaxing shower at night instead of in the morning? Find something that soothes your mind and relaxes your body. Play soothing music with the lights off every night as you slip under the covers. It’s a great way to tell your body that the day is over, rest your worries, relax your muscles, get comfortable and dream away.
  4. Run Forrest, Run! - Physical activity helps promote better sleep habits. Just don’t exercise too closely to bed time otherwise your body will still be buzzing with energy. If possible, exercise at least four hours before bed time.
  5. This goes here, that goes there - Get organized and then organize your stress. If you can, leave your professional stress on the doorstep – it will be there for you in the morning. Turn cell phones off if they are a gateway for stress to creep into your life.  Turn off outside stressors and focus on your home, family, pets and things that make you happy. Shut the ‘business you’ down for the night so the ‘personal you’ can have some time to enjoy life, family and friends.
  6. Review your medications - Consult your doctor. Beta-blockers may cause insomnia, along with some antidepressants. They may be affecting your sleep.
  7. Stay Cool!  - Slipping into a nice cool bed lowers your body temperature and tells your body to produce melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Take a hot shower, drop your thermostat and get cozy for the night.
  8. Inhale, exhale … and again - Lavender. Chamomile. Those words are relaxing already. Pick up some essential oils and a spray bottle. Dilute a few drops in some water and put into spay bottle. Before bed, spray the air, your sheets and pillow (lightly). The calming aroma tells your body that its night-night time. It’s the same strategy some massage therapists use to relax their clients.
  9. Supplement your efforts. – There are so many options when it comes to supplements for sleep aids. Steer clear of the habit-forming ones and look for all natural supplements that will help your body relax in a natural way.
  10. The tails of Insomnia - It seems as if it’s really her bed, that she lets me sleep in. My yellow lab, however cute and loyal and friendly she is – is a bed hog. Although I will probably get those puppy dog eyes and innocent lost puppy stares … I am kicking her out of my bed tonight, so I can finally get a good night’s sleep. If I can do it, you can do it. Take back your bed and get your rest.
  11. Just keep breathing, just keep breathing - Don’t forget to breathe and relax your body from head to toe. Nice deep breaths in and deep breaths out can relax your body. Follow that by telling yourself … “relax the top of your head, move down to your neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms …..” work your way from top to bottom until your entire body is relaxed. Focus on your breathing, just your breathing.

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