At one point or another, we have all experienced the feeling of not being able to fall asleep. It is 2AM and we keep tossing and turning. For many of us, getting a good night’s sleep may seem like a luxury, but it is essential for our health to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Athlete’s especially need adequate rest in order to recover from strenuous workouts. When you get high-quality sleep, you will feel more energized and productive throughout the week. Here are a few tips to help you wind down your day and prepare for a good night’s sleep:
One of the best things that you can do to prepare for bedtime is to shut off electronic devices and your television. It is often tempting to wind down by browsing on Facebook on your cell phone or watching your favorite television show, but the blue light that is emitted though these devices disrupts our sleep cycles. While doing these activities, our mind is still stimulated and it becomes more difficult to fall asleep. Reading a book before bed is an excellent way to relax before bed. Also try getting rid of bright lights that you have on in your bedroom. The light prevents your brain from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes us fall asleep. Try installing a dimmer or purchasing a bedside light that will allow you to adjust the brightness in your room.
Did you ever notice it is harder to fall asleep after a big, fatty meal? Our bodies cannot process food properly while we are laying down, since it is designed to digest while we are standing or sitting. If we eat too much before bed, we may end up with an upset stomach. Since they are higher in calories, fatty foods take a lot of work for our bodies to digest and that may keep you up as well. Do your best to finish eating three hours before bedtime to avoid stomach upset or trouble sleeping. Though you may have the impression that alcohol will make you fall to sleep quicker, it reduces the quality of sleep that you receive by disrupting the REM phase of sleep. Try to avoid alcohol as much as possible before bed so that you are not sleeping “light” and waking up feeling tired, even after a long period of sleep. That cup of coffee that you need to wake up during the morning has a half life of eight hours. If you have a cup of coffee at 6pm, you will have caffeine in your body until 2am. This doesn’t help us if we want to go to sleep early. Try to not have any caffeine after 2-3pm to ensure that you can get to bed in time.
Another great way to fall asleep is to take a hot bath about an hour before bedtime. Try a mix of relaxing essential oils, such as lavender, with Epsom salts to release tension and stress in your muscles and calm your mind before bed. If you are still stressed or worried about something, breathing exercises are a great way to stop your racing mind. By focusing on the breath, the less thoughts will occupy your mind and the easier it will be for you to relax. If meditation is not your thing, try counting backwards from a high number in order to distract yourself. This is a great way to turn off your mind and fall asleep.
If you are having difficulty falling asleep, take a few of the tips listed above and create a consistent bedtime routine that encourages proper sleep. Another great way to relax after a stressful week is with massage therapy. Please contact Stephanie from Blitz Body and Mind at (716)866-3261 to set up an appointment today.
By Stephanie Szpila