We’ve all had one of those nights”you know, the tossing, turning, restless, will-need-a-latte-the size-of-your-head-and-a-tube-of-concealer-the-next-day kind. While it’s easy to jump back from just one sleepless night, if on average you spend more time staring at your ceiling than snoozing, you may have a mild case of insomnia. Defined as the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, this common sleeping disorder can really mess with your 9 to 5 lifestyle, not to mention your health. The good news is, that as long as your problem isn’t too severe (in which case, get yourself to your MD ASAP), there are a few things you can do at home to help you clock in the recommended seven to nine hours. Here are some simple tips and tricks for a good night’s sleep:
Set the Scene
If your bed and pillow are uncomfortable (read: too hard or soft), you can forget about reaching that coveted REM stage. Look into your body’s needs”are you a side sleeper, a tummy sleeper or a back sleeper? ”and make sure everything is just right, a la Goldilocks. Also, make your room is a safe haven from all noise, light and distraction. This means only using your bedroom for sleep and sex”so forget about those late night Parks and Rec marathons, or squeezing in a little homework in your Pjs. Lastly, turn down the temperature. It’s a fact, sweaty = tossing and turning.
Create a Ritual
Remember bedtime stories? Weren’t they great? Well, not only was your mom or dad entertaining you every night with fables and fairy tales, they were also creating a ritual that helped send you off to snoozetown. Now that you’re all grown up, you can come up with a ritual of your own. Try getting cozy with a good book, make yourself a cup of herbal tea or take a hot bubble bath a few hours before you plan to hit the hay. Whatever relaxing little thing you choose to do, if you remember to do it every night, it will help prepare your body to get ready for sleep.
Keep a Schedule
It’s hard, but try to stick to a strict sleeping schedule as much as you can. This means turning in and waking up around the exact same time every day (this includes weekends). By creating a set window for sleep, you’ll help train your body and mind to fall into the pattern it naturally craves. If your sleep is thrown off one night, make sure you still wake up at the same time as the day before and practice a no-nap policy. While tempting, catnaps will only make it that much harder to catch some winks later on.
Try a Bedtime Snack
While it’s advised that you shouldn’t eat in the three to four hours before you go to bed, having a small meal beforehand may help you to drift off faster. Pouring yourself a glass of warm milk pre-slumber might be just what your body needs. Add a tablespoon of honey”the natural sugars can act as a sedative”and you could be dreaming in no time. Another option is munching on vitamin B6-rich snacks (needed to help make the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin), like a bowl of fortified cereal, a sliced banana, a tuna sandwich or crackers and hummus.
Cut Back on Caffeine & Alcohol
Sure, you may be thinking that a few glasses of your favourite vino can actually make you the opposite of wide awake, but it can also keep you up with a headache, stomachache and a full bladder once your buzz wears off. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a no-brainer. Everyone knows that downing a Venti of your favourite blend mid-afternoon is a surefire way to keep you jittery well into the PM. As a rule, try not to consume any food or drink that contains caffeine after 12 p.m. to ensure it doesn’t interrupt precious pillowtime.
It’s been said that regular exercise can help you to sleep sounder, longer and feel more awake during the day. Just make sure you pencil in your cardio session in the late afternoon or early evening to get the best results. You can do whatever you like”try walking to and from work, taking Fido for a run or sweating it out on the treadmill”just make sure you put in at least 20 minutes a day to get all the great bedtime benefits.