There’s nothing more aggravating than getting yourself ready for bed, shutting off the lights and then laying in the dark for what seems like hours trying to fall asleep. Is it insomnia? Why can’t you sleep? The National Library of Medicine states that “various studies worldwide have shown the prevalence of insomnia in 10%–30% of the population, some even as high as 50%–60%. It is common in older adults, females, and people with medical and mental ill health.” (1) Insomnia is one of the common, but often neglected conditions in healthcare that can have serious long term effects on our health.
Insomnia is defined as suffering from sleep disturbances at least three times a week for a month or longer. There are many factors that could be contributing to insomnia from health conditions to psychological conditions to lifestyle factors. What can you do right now to fall asleep and stay asleep?
Improve Your Sleep by Banning Electronics from your Bed
Exposure to light helps to control your natural sleep-and-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. However, blue light exposure at night affects your body’s ability to prepare for sleep. Blue light blocks melatonin, the hormone our body relies on to make us sleepy. Simply put, blue light at night will make you less drowsy and it will take you longer to fall asleep. Common sources of blue light: Televisions, Smartphones, Tablets, Gaming systems, Fluorescent light bulbs, LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs and Computer monitors. Avoid the use of these blue light sources at night in your bed and watch your ability to fall asleep improve. (2)
Improve Your Sleep by Setting a Bed Time
Our body is designed to run on an internal master clock. Science calls this clock our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm affects several things in our body like hormone production, digestive cycles and sleep patterns. (3) There are certain cues and triggers that help that clock stay in sync. Having a consistent bedtime, even on the weekends, is one way of keeping that clock functioning. Aim for a bedtime that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Improve Your Sleep by Limiting Caffeine after 12pm
Did you know that caffeine can have lasting stimulant effects for up to 12 hours? A review of two randomized control trials showed that eliminating caffeine for a whole day was able to improve sleep quality and lengthen sleep duration.(4) Eliminating caffeine may seem impossible. Begin by limiting caffeine intake after 12pm.
Improve Your Sleep by Working Out in the Morning
Working out is shown to help with insomnia and produce good sleeping habits. It’s suggested to workout in the morning so that the release of endorphins you get from your great workout doesn’t keep you away at night.
Improve Your Sleep by Eating Melatonin Producing Foods
Melatonin is the “sleep hormone” our body produces to make us drowsy and prep our bodies for a good night’s rest. There are foods that support melatonin and foods that include tryptophan (which helps our body to produce melatonin) that can help us get the rest we need!
Melatonin rich foods:
- Morello cherries
- Porridge oats
- Red Wine (in moderation)
Tryptophan rich foods to eat at night: (6)
- Grass-fed dairy products
- Fish, chicken, turkey
- Sprouted grains
- Beans and pulses
- Rice (black, brown or red rice are the best)
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
For more ideas to improve your sleep and increase your energy, read this post!