Getting To Sleep

Tired of counting sheep only to reach number 1,000 and still be wide awake?

Everyone is different, and a 20-minute soak might not work for you. While looking around, I've found many other ideas worth mentioning.

a man uses warm water therapy in his hot tub to sleep better

Soak in a hot tub 60-90 minutes before bed to fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Here is a list of methods that might help you falling asleep faster and sleep better:

1. Get more exercise to sleep better

Sometimes I have to roll my eyes when I see a suggestion like that, because it seems so obvious. Exercise during the day has been shown to help people sleep better. What might not be as obvious is that it is not such a good idea to exercise in the evening before bedtime as it tends to rev a person up. The less exercise you get during the day the more likely you are to have trouble sleeping.

a woman soaks in a hot tub before bed to fall alseep fater

Improve your quality of sleep with warm water hydrotherapy before bed.

2. Read before bed or listen to soothing music to fall asleep faster

Yes, both seem to help, unless the reading material or the music is too stimulating or exciting. Reading a paper book helps you to forget about work and the cares of the day. Reading a book on a computer or electronic device is not the same as reading a paper book where sleep enhancement is concerned. Those electronic devices cause our brain to work hard whether we realize it or not. This makes it more difficult to shut down at night. In my experience, as long as it is a paper printed book anything I had to read in college is great. Those beach-books, Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child…not so much.

a couple soaks on an oceanside patio in their hot tub for better sleep

Like the sounds of the ocean waves a hot tub is the perfect all natural sleep aid.

3. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time on weekdays and weekends

Your Circadian rhythm becomes better established if you maintain a regular sleep cycle. A sleep cycle becomes more important as we age. When you are younger it is much easier to 'burn the candle' but not so much when you reach adult age. Some people are naturally night owls but it is still important that they keep a regular sleep cycle whenever that is most natural.

a woman sleeps with an alarm clock to keep a regular sleep cycle

Keeping a regular sleep cycle is critical to getting a good night's sleep.

4. Create an environment that is conducive to sleep

…dark, quiet and cool. We have evolved to sleep in the dark. Before there was electric lighting people went to bed much earlier than they do in modern times. Regardless of when your regular sleep time is, (even if it is during the day), it is critical to have room darkening shades for better sleep. With the change of seasons, as daylight times change in length, many people have trouble sleeping because it is still light outside during their normal bedtime. In addition to light, temperature also effects sleep. WebMD recommends the perfect sleeping temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees for an ideal sleeping temperature.

a nightlight on a wall shows that dark room promotes improved sleep quality

A darkened cool room will improve sleep quality and help you to sleep better.

5. Use your bed for what it is intended

Avoid watching TV, working on the computer or eating soda crackers in bed. Using your bed for sleep creates a habit that your body and mind respond to by falling asleep easier and faster. Using electronics before bed will make it harder to fall asleep. The light from these devices tells the brain that it is daytime and causes the body to suppress melatonin.

a man sleeps soundly in his bed by avoiding electronics before bed time

Use your bed only for what is intended and avoid using electronics before bed.

6. Avoid eating right before bedtime.....or not

It seems the jury is still out on this one. A few years ago common thought was that eating before bed contributed to weight gain but some of the more recent studies have shown the opposite to be true. It is beginning to look as though the truth of this one depends on the individual. While some people actually seem to be able to better control their weight by eating before bedtime some of the rest of us will experience acid reflux or worse if we eat just before bed. The idea of gaining weight comes from the idea that your metabolism slows down at night so food before bed just gets stored as fat. In the case of acid stomach the theory is that your stomach produces the normal acid for food digestion when you eat at night but because you are sleeping the body can not properly regulate it. For now you should do what works for you. If you can eat before bed and still have a good night sleep then go for it. Some of this may be age related as well. Otherwise if you are like me then you will wait until the morning and have a good breakfast.

a plate of fried chicken shows that eating before bed can be unhealthy

Eating before bed can lead to acid reflux and poor sleep quality.

7. Avoid drinking fluids before bed

This certainly becomes more of a problem as we age although this can be a problem for younger people as well. Recent studies are showing that a limited amount of water before bed is good for you although if you drink plenty of water during the day then it is not as important. If you wake in the night to use the bathroom then likely you will want to consider limiting your fluid intake just before bed. Although it may seem you are able to return to a restful sleep after, the act of waking in the middle of the night interrupts the sleep cycle and will likely leave you feeling tired during the day. If you sleep through the night without a bathroom break then some water before bed might benefit you if you are not drinking enough water during the day. Most of us will be taking our fluids during the day.

a couple relaxes on a patio with a hot tub drinking coffee

Drinking fluids before bed can disrupt your normal sleep cycle.

8. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed

We all know people who claim that a cup of coffee before bed helps them to sleep better. While everyone's bodies are different the scientific evidence points to caffeine as a major sleep disrupter. Studies show that caffeine even 6 hours before bed can have serious consequences for the quality of your sleep. While statistics show that smoking is at an all time low in the U.S. nicotine like caffeine is very disruptive to sleep. Nicotine interrupts the circadian rhythm cycle and is very disruptive to quality sleeping. Like cigarette smoking and sleeping pills, alcohol is extremely addictive. While alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep faster the risks of addiction far outweigh any benefit in that arena. Don't justify regular alcohol use with sleep benefits because it doesn't pan out. The results of 27 studies on this subject has shown that alcohol at bedtime reduces the amount of time we spend in REM (rapid eye movement) which is the deepest kind of sleep, the time when we dream, and is thought to be critical to a truly restful sleep.

And don't forget the warm, relaxing soak in the hot tub. It really helps prepare you to fall asleep faster and sleep better. Best of all it is a completely homeopathic and natural sleep remedy that is good for your body in very many ways.

If you have tried these suggestions and nothing seems to work then it is time to talk to your doctor. Sleep deprivation causes many problems in a person's daily life and should not go untreated.

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