From time to time we all go through rough patches when it comes to our sleep. I know I’ve tried everything from an extra glass of wine to a dose of Benadryl (this one I don’t recommend) in attempts to stabilize my sleep patterns, and while I can usually right the ship within a week or so, a great many folks take much longer. If you’re looking for a few ways to consistently ease yourself into dreamland, read on for some tried and true approaches, and to check out a few things to avoid.
Screens, Screens, Everywhere Screens
Between cell phones, computer screens at work, navigation systems in cars, iPads, and home televisions, we’re literally surrounded by screens. Handy for things? Yes. Good for us? Maybe not. Screen time has been repeatedly shown to impair sleep cycles.
One of the main issues here is that the brightness of the screen signals to your brain that it’s daytime, and therefore is time to be awake. It’s also been linked to increased cortisol levels, and we’re all too familiar with the detrimental effects of that hormone....The point is this: start turning off your TV at least an hour before bed, stop checking your phone incessantly, and generally let your brain realize that it’s 9:30 at night. For some more information on screen time, check out this link.
Disclaimer: I dearly love caffeine. I consume it in fairly large quantities everyday (coffee, coffee, coffee) and have no intention of stopping. That being said, I enforce a fairly strict cutoff time for my intake of caffeinated beverages: around 4pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and blocks your body’s adenosine receptors, consequently staving off the feeling of sleepiness (Adenosine is responsible for those sleepy feelings).
Considering the half-life of caffeine is 3-5 hours (dependent on individual), the glorious substance can impact you for much longer than you would think. In case you are unfamiliar with the term “half-life”, it refers to the time it takes for half of the chemical to leave your body. The meaning is slightly more scientific when referring to things like heavy metals, but for our purposes here, the definition above will suffice.
Sooooo.....if you’ve already tried reducing screen time before bed and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and you’re still not able to fall asleep, check out our tips below.
Before everything else in the list below, create a relaxing environment so your brain knows it’s time for bed.
Now that we’ve gotten that out, let us proceed.
Topping the list of course, is good old Lavender. Put a few drops in your bath or diffuse it in your bedroom. Some people swear by putting a small satchel of dried lavender under their pillow.
Another tried and true option. Warm up some of our (soon-to-be-released) chamomile almond milk, dim the lights, and the chamomile will have you out like a light in no time. This is thought to be the result of the flavonoid Apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. For a much better explanation of the interaction, read more about it and many other scientific factoids here.
As little as ten minutes of activity can improve your sleep at night. This can be as simple as walking around the block or as vigorous as a butt-kicking spin class. Mid-day seems to be the best time of day for most people to engage in high intensity activity, but this really depends on the individual. A quick walk at night however will de-stress you, get you out of those bright lights in your house, and put a little fresh air in your lungs before you crawl under the covers.
CBD has been shown to improve sleeplessness by reducing anxiety. If your thoughts are racing while you're lying in bed, this could be a good option for you. Full disclosure, some studies have shown that in certain individuals CBD can actually impair a persons ability to achieve REM sleep. This wasn't a problem for me however, I slept like a sack of bricks after a relatively low dose of nano-emulsified CBD. In fact, I slept so hard that it reset my sleep cycle for at least a week after a single dose. I did however need an extra cup of coffee the following morning....
If you’ve noticed a common theme amongst these suggestions...good for you, you’ve been paying attention. If you haven’t well, here it is: Relaxation is vital before bed. Taking deep breaths, turning off your cellphone and television, and dimming the lights will all help you wind down before bed. Many of us lead stressful lives and we really need to sleep. Follow the steps above, and you'll be sleeping like a...
Final Tip: If you commonly find yourself waking up in the middle of the night for a restroom visit, try eating a handful of raisins before bed. Nobody knows why it works, but it sure seems to! Try it out and let us know. Check out the anecdotes here.