Hacks for a Better Night’s Sleep
Do you need to sleep better at night? Do you struggle to get enough sleep? Not only is your lack of decent shut-eye harming your mood and your ability to function the next day (whether you think it is or not!), but it’s also jeopardizing your health. Not getting enough sleep can shorten your life and increase your odds of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It can decrease everything from your immunity to your sex drive (!). It can make you grouchy, anxious, forgetful, or even depressed. And driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while drunk.
The good news is, there are a lot of things to improve the quality of your nighttime sleep experience. Here are a few to consider:
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Need to Sleep Better? Here are 5 Problem Areas to Check:
The first thing to check if you (or your child) is having trouble sleeping is the sleep environment. If there are loud/intermittent noises, excess light, or anything else along these lines corrupting the sleep space in question, then it’s no surprise sleep is hard.
RELATED POST: How To Get Your Kid To Go To Sleep
Some people are just more sensitive to these things than others. I never realized I had a light issue until my first summer in a far-northern clime, with only a few hours of dark each night. I could not figure out why I was staying up until midnight, waking up at 4am, and exhausted all day!
If that’s you, get some room-darkening shades/curtains and a decent eye mask. If your partner snores or you live in the city, get yourself some good earplugs. And if it’s your kiddo who can’t sleep because of the random noises, try a nice white noise machine for them. (My girls still LOVE theirs.)
RELATED POST: Why All Parents Need Earplugs In Bulk
While we’re on the subject of environment, check the temperature of your/your child’s sleeping space. In order to fall asleep, you need to allow your body temperature to drop a little. If the bedroom is too hot, this could be enough to prevent sleep (or to wake you/your child up, e.g., when the heat kicks on for the day in the morning).
Oddly enough, the temperature of your feet can also have a huge impact on your ability to sleep. (No wonder kiddos like their footed pajamas so much in the winter!). In the summer, if my feet are too hot, I just cannot sleep until I run them under cold water for a few minutes to cool them down. And in the winter (i.e., right now), I just keep a pair of fuzzy socks on my bedside table. That way, as soon as I crawl into bed, I can put them on so my feet don’t feel like ice cubes. With my toes all warm, I fall right asleep.
If you check your phone in bed last thing before trying to sleep (or first thing in the morning upon waking), and wonder why you’re having trouble sleeping, well, just stop. Move the phone/tablet out of your bedroom – or even better, to a separate floor of your house if you can.
Messing with people’s ability to sleep is just one example of the possible damage that screens are causing in our lives. But the light coming from our devices late at night can mess with our body’s natural melatonin production. And since melatonin is what makes us sleepy and cues us to sleep, it’s no wonder that it’s hard to go to sleep after that one last check of social media or work email or the latest headlines.
Even if you have your screen in “night mode” to minimize the alertness-promoting blue wavelengths that come through, you have to admit that dwelling on your latest memo from your boss, or FOMO from someone else’s Facebook feed, or stressing over the news are NOT conducive to the calm “brain-off” mode needed for a restful night’s slumber. So just lay off the screens for at least an hour before bed, and see if that helps.
I’ll never forget the summer I spent a week with my aunt and uncle on their farm, without my parents there. I could. not. SLEEP at night!!! I remember mentioning this to my mama over the phone, and together we figured out that the culprit was probably the several glasses of my aunt’s yummy iced tea that I was downing at dinnertime. I LOVE iced tea, but the caffeine in it was keeping me wide awake! (And I hadn’t realized that at home, my mama strictly regulated our caffeine intake and didn’t allow us – or herself – ANY caffeine past noon, for this very reason.)
Not only does caffeine make it harder to sleep for up to eight hours or more after you consume it, but the sense of alertness it provides is an illusion on some levels. As you may know if you’ve experimented with caffeine intake, it can’t really compensate for too little sleep at night. And once the first effects wear off, you can often feel groggy. Even worse, having a high intake and then cutting back can leave you with a splitting headache that won’t go away. (Been there, done that, trust me you do NOT want to learn this lesson the hard way, as I once did.)
So just cut back on the caffeine. Have your cup or two of morning coffee/tea, and then just stop for the day. If this is a fraction of your current consumption, taper off gradually to avoid those nasty headaches. And focus on getting more sleep at night, which will serve you better in the long run on so many levels.
I have to admit that this last one is not a concern for me – but then again, as noted above, ALL our devices live on a separate floor than our bedrooms at nighttime. But apparently some people are really affected by the EMF radiation emitted by all our modern tech devices – to the point that it interferes with their sleep. And the worst part is, they don’t even realize that they are being affected in this way.
If you don’t already know, EMFs are electromagnetic frequencies such as radio frequencies which make it harder to get to sleep. Electromagnetic frequencies cause all sorts of behavioral changes in many animals, and make it a lot harder to sleep for some humans.
And while saying “just banish all devices from your bedroom” is easy for our family, this isn’t the case for everyone; some people need to keep their cell phones on their bedside tables because they are on call all night, for example, for their jobs. In cases like this, you might consider investing in an EMF Bed Canopy, which effectively helps to block much of it out. For people whose sleep troubles have this as their root cause, you might be amazed at how much this simple change can improve how well you sleep.
What are your biggest sleep challenges? And what, if any, hacks have you found to address them? Let us know what’s worked for you in the comments!
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