“How can I get better sleep? I don’t sleep well and I never feel rested when I wake up.” – Needing More Zs
Poor sleep is one of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients. Whether you’re not able to get to sleep or stay asleep, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night or just plain having a hard time getting up each morning, you’re not alone.
Many things can contribute to poor sleep, so before I recommend any sleep aids, I like to make sure my clients are eliminating any habits that could be getting in their way.
It’s incredibly important to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Your body produces lots of its own stuff to help you sleep, but in order to do it reliably, you need to give it a solid schedule. Set yourself a bedtime and find a reliable time to wake up each morning (even on weekends, as painful as it may be). Pro tip: If you’re not able to go to bed at the same time each night, ask yourself why. We all have work schedules and real obligations we have to consider sometimes, but generally speaking, what’s keeping you? Chores? Extra work? Getting the house straightened up after the kids go to bed? Name your obstacle and ask yourself whether or not it truly must get done tonight. If so, can your partner help you? Can you make meals in advance so you don’t have to pack them the night before? Can you find a way to make straightening up fun and enlist the kids’ help?
I know, I know – we all love our coffee, sodas and sugar. Some of us love cigarettes or other stimulants. If you must drink caffeine, try not to drink any after lunchtime. While the effects of caffeine might not be noticeable to you or may seem to wear off after an hour or two, it remains active in the body for several hours after consuming. Pro tip: Try not to consume anything stimulating after lunch. That includes sugary snacks and sodas. As much of a bummer as that can be, you’re doing your body a big favor by allowing it to regulate itself and prepare itself for sleep as it naturally would.
Using the bed for more than sleep
This is a big one. When I mentioned earlier that you need to pick a stable bedtime, I didn’t mean the time you get into bed and watch TV or read for an hour. I meant the time you actually lie down and try to sleep. We tend to do lots of stuff in bed – read, watch TV or movies, eat, work – and it trains our brains to associate bed with doing things instead of resting. You should only do two things in bed: sleep or have sex. Pro tip: If you think you need to read or watch TV to unwind, do it on the couch or set up a chair in your bedroom – anything to keep you from doing it in bed. If you wake up in the middle of the night and need to read in order to sleep again, get up and read – don’t do it in bed.
Over-consuming at night
Do you regularly get up to pee in the middle of the night? Try drinking more of your water earlier in the day and don’t drink anything after dinner. Your body needs time to process everything and you’re much more likely to sleep through the night if you don’t fill your bladder before bed. This tip also applies to eating – when we eat, our bodies process and store fluids and solid wastes that we may need to get up and eliminate in the middle of the night. Try not to eat or drink after dinner – see what happens! Note: If you’re still needing to pee in the middle of the night even without drinking for several hours before bed, talk to your doctor about overactive bladder.
We’ve all been in that place where our minds won’t shut up despite our best efforts to relax and sleep. Whether that mind chatter keeps us from getting to sleep or starts when we wake up in the middle of the night, it’s incredibly frustrating. What’s keeping you awake? Anxiety? Fear? A sense that you haven’t done enough today? Pro tip: Find a way to let that go during your waking hours. Whether you meditate, take a walk, do yoga or practice some breathing exercises, find a way to relax and let it go.
Some sleep issues can be caused by medical issues, so if you’re dealing with chronic sleep issues, be sure to mention it to your doctor. However, most of us experience sleep issues because of an imbalance we have somewhere in our lives. How are your relationships? How are you eating and drinking? Is your work life killing you? Let me know – I can help you find balance and let go of the anxiety that gnaws away at us into the wee morning hours! Or, take my quiz to see if you might benefit from talking with me!