Following on from Monday’s post, “Insomnia Issues & Sleep Problems Part I – Nutrition”, today I’m looking at some of the other major factors that could be influencing your sleep, or lack thereof. Hey, if you’re tackling the potential nutritional aspects of sleep problems, you should probably take a look at the lifestyle factors while you’re at it. Work on these and you will improve your sleep!
Even if you only sometimes suffer with sleep problems, now is the perfect time to improve your sleep, before it becomes a chronic issue. So, if you’re being kept awake at night by something other than babies or children, here are some tips to help you get (back) to sleep! You might think you know them already, but how many of them do you actually practice?
Brain in overdrive when your head hits the pillow?
- Reduce screen-time in the evening, and have NO screen-time at all for at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue back-light of the screens (tv, iphone, laptop etc) tricks your brain and keeps cortisol levels raised, keeping you in ‘fight or flight’ mode and preventing you from relaxation and sleep. Read, instead – an actual, old-fashioned, paper book 😉 Put your phone on the automated night-mode overnight so that (a) the screen dims and reduces the blue-light that keeps your brain alert, and (b) no notifications/phone calls ping up on the screen to bother you. Better still, put it on flight mode so the wifi isn’t going on all night right by your head (why take the risk?).
- Jot down any niggling thoughts – your to-do list for tomorrow, something for the calendar for next week, something you must tell your partner in the morning, anything really. Whatever is floating around in your brain is preventing your brain from switching off and sleeping.
Relax the mind
- Listen to a guided meditation before you go to bed. It need only be a few minutes long if you have not meditated before. Work your way up to 10-12 minutes of meditation before bed. Try the ‘Calm’ app for some guided meditations (there are some free ones in there to try out first).
Drown out any noises that might be bugging you.
- Listen to white noise. Use an app on your phone to play gentle sounds, which not only drown out the ticking clock/snoring partner, but have the added bonus of helping to drown out the thoughts in your head.
- Use earplugs if you live near a noisy road/noisy birds/noisy anything that goes on through the night and could wake you up or prevent you from getting back to sleep. They help mute annoying sounds, but don’t stop you from hearing your alarm clock in the morning. If you’re worried you might not hear your baby cry/alarm clock, just pop one earplug in the ear that is exposed and keep the other ear free (that’s what I do!).
- Use an eyemask. Okay this isn’t a noise solution but, similarly, light could be bothering you more than you realise. We need very dark rooms for the best, most restorative sleep. Eyemasks are not just for long-haul flights (although they work wonders there too!), but are extremely beneficial if there’s an unwanted source of light in your bedroom.
Something waking you up at night?
Pinpoint what is waking you up
- Sudden noises? As mentioned above, sudden noises that wake you up and leave you wide-eyed and kinda bushy tailed, but at the wrong time like 3am, need to be eliminated, if possible, reduced, or at the very least drowned out. Stick the white noise back on (if your brain is active) or the earplugs in.
- Tossing and turning? If your body is having difficulty relaxing and you can’t find a comfortable position, consider that low magnesium may be at play. Magnesium helps to relax muscles, and is particularly beneficial for night cramps.
- Pets in the bedroom? They could be bothering you more than you realise. We love having our cats in our bedroom overnight – they love to curl up at the bottom of the bed and aren’t any bother. But other times, our big cat, Bear, likes to find somewhere even warmer, like my husband’s chest or around my head on my pillow! When this happens, we wake up and usually cannot get back to sleep while he remains in that position (but it’s sooooo cute!). So if pets might be affecting your sleep, make your sleep and health the priority, and make a comfy bed for them elsewhere.
The need to pee is waking you up
- Minimise fluid intake after dinner. Ensure you get your 2 litres of water throughout the day, and don’t have to cram a litre in before bed to get your daily quota!
- If you take tablets at night, take with as little amount of water as possible or take a little earlier, about an hour before bed, to give your bladder a chance to do its job before your head hits the pillow.
- If this doesn’t help, there may be other causes of excessive night urination which you should discuss with your health practitioner.
You wake up and then think you might as well pee.
- Something else is waking you up – can you pinpoint what it was? A noise that you can block out? Your partner? Find ways to help prevent the wake-up from even happening, and you’ll probably find your bladder can last until the morning.
- Minimise how much you allow yourself to ‘wake’. If you really must go to the bathroom, don’t turn lights on – use the light of your phone to light the way if you must, but RESIST THE URGE TO LOOK AT YOUR PHONE/EMAILS/FACEBOOK/insert your online vice of choice!
Other sleep problems at play?
Obviously, the above pointers are general sleep hygiene tips. If you have something else causing your sleep issues, then see below for where to get some help:
My baby believes sleep is for the weak.
I hear ya. So does mine. It is definitely worth speaking to an expert for help – long-term baby-induced sleep deprivation is not fun. Try Tresillian for free advice on settling your baby at night, or there are many (paid) baby sleep consultants around these days. Or, just come and see me and we can console one another over a cuppa whilst I put together a plan to help support and fuel your body and mind nutritionally during this ‘new mother’ phase. Book in for a consult and I can create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
I’m in pain and it keeps me awake.
Don’t suffer in silence. Chronic pain can often cause night restlessness and sleeplessness. If you are looking for a more natural solution to your pain management, book a consult with me today.
This just scratches the surface.
There are so many variables at play can cause sleep problems. Book an appointment with me TODAY to chat in-depth about your sleep, diet, health history, and more.
Sleep easy knowing we are going to get to the bottom of your health issues. Let me help you get rid of your sleep problems, and get the sleep you need to reach your health goals!