Have you ever lay in bed, staring at the ceiling at 2 o’clock in the morning frustrated that you can’t get some shut eye? Well, you aren’t alone. In fact, 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders, or poor sleep hygiene.[i] Sleep is necessary for a healthy nervous system which helps to control emotions and improve decision making, memory and learning.
Need help improving your sleep, but don’t know where to start? The SENS Solution® is based on four distinct lifestyle pillars—Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition and Stress management—but these pillars are by no means siloed. In fact, each pillar affects one another, especially when it comes to sleep. Use the tips below, centered around our four pillars, to help improve your sleeping habits.
Establish a regular bedtime routine. Find activities that help you wind down before bed and stick to the same daily sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
Take an early nap. A 10-20 minute nap during the day can help you feel rested, but avoid napping after 3:00pm, which can make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
Turn off your screens. Reduce exposure to “blue” light: turn off TVs, phones, and computers at least one hour before bedtime. Charge phones and laptops outside the bedroom. Can’t give up late-night TV? Dim your screen’s brightness, either manually or use “night light” settings.
Keep it cool and dark. A cool, dark bedroom environment helps promote restful sleep. Set the thermostat to 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit (whatever works best for you), and draw your shades and curtains to block out light.
Hot bath or shower. Stepping from warm water into a cooler bedroom will slightly drop body temperature, slow down metabolic activity and help you feel sleepy.
Exercise. Exercise training can improve sleep quality. For best results, exercise early or no later than three hours before bedtime so the body has sufficient time to wind down before going to bed.
Walk/Run outside. Increasing natural light exposure during the day can help you get to sleep later in the day.
Do some leg exercises. Avoid strenuous exercise before bed, but some easy leg lifts, squats, or other light leg exercises can help divert blood flow to the legs and away from the brain, which can quiet the mind, and make it easier to fall asleep.
Limit caffeine. Drinking caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can’t quit cold turkey, try limiting caffeine intake to earlier in the day so it’s out of your system by bedtime.
Eat light at night. Big meals pre-bedtime has been linked to trouble falling asleep. So avoid large meals late in the evening.
Don’t drink alcohol right before bed. Alcohol can disrupt sleep cycles later in the night. You don’t have to quit completely, just have a cocktail or glass of wine with dinner and skip the nightcap.
Try tea. Some herbal teas, like chamomile, have been found to help you relax and help induce sleep.
Schedule “worry time” during the day. Spend 15 minutes “thinking through” and journaling problems so they don’t sneak up when your head hits the pillow. A legal pad is fine, but if you use a journal or notebook, you can literally close the book on your worries – at least until morning.
Use relaxation techniques. Meditation can improve total sleep time and quality. Other relaxation strategies—like yoga, deep breathing, and progressive relaxation—are also effective tools for promoting good sleep.
Try visualization. Imagine yourself drifting in a blissful slumber while practicing deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Starting at one end of the body and working up or down, contract and then release each muscle group for all-over relaxation.
If you try these SENS Solution® tips, and are still counting sheep, reach out to your SENS Health Coach for additional help. To discuss medical conditions (e.g., sleep apnea) or medications that may be hindering your sleep, contact your Physician.