For so many of us, insomnia is not really the issue. We’re tired, we had a long day, the bed is cozy, and we drift off without much thought. However, nodding off may be followed by tossing and turning, or waking up for seemingly no reason at all. Sometimes, it’s a pattern (3 a.m. pee, like clockwork?). Other times, it’s an infuriating mystery. Here are some tricks to help you drift off and stay in dreamland so you can really clock those restorative beauty hours.
Create a relaxing routine
It’s not so much about the hour that your head hits the pillow, but what you do before then. If your phone is the last thing you look at, or the TV, or the computer, c’mon. You know better. Try some unwind time with a book, some stretches, maybe some herbal tea, or even make a cuddle or massage routine with your partner if that’s your thang. Setting up proper wind-down time can help your muscles, mind, and brain get to a place where they’re ready to close down, and stay down, till your alarm sounds.
Don’t go to bed starving
We know that intermittent fasting is like, so hot right now, and we are big fans of utlizing this tactic when we’re cleansing, dropping 5, or when it makes sense. If you’re going to bed hungry because you ate dinner four or five hours ago, you might notice a pattern. You might wake around 3 a.m. every single night, undisturbed, just confused and struggling to reach that REM once again.Studies show the reason for this is a blood sugar crash. Even though you are resting, your body is undergoing some major restoration, and it does require some energy to do so. When you don’t fuel your body with nutrients properly, you’ll experience a dip in blood sugar, which causes a rise in cortisol. (It’s your body’s way of sounding the alarm: “Um, hello! Please feed yourself and don’t die, thanks!”) Maybe you don’t want a hefty snack right before bed, but a tablespoon of almond butter won’t pack on major lbs, though it may give you the carbohydrates you need to maintain glucose homeostasis throughout the night.
Get outside first thing in the morning
A morning walk is not only a fantastic way to get stagnant lymph flowing and an excellent warm-up for a workout, but getting some sunlight in your retinas right away triggers your natural circadian programming, and signals your body to produce melatonin 14-16 hours later for a healthy sleep cycle. It helps to drop your core body temperature to a place where restful sleep happens. You don’t need to be out long—even 10 minutes around the block will do.
Cut out caffeine after noon
Please don’t hate us, but if you’re an afternoon coffee person, it’s not doing ya any favors. The half-life of caffeine is five hours, meaning half of that cup’s juice is still in your bod for about 10 hours. Even after the 10th hour, it takes the body and brain a moment to begin to relax, which pushes genuine relaxation time later and later. Try to have your last sip by noon if you’re looking forward to eight hours.
Avoid alcohol before bed
Obviously, this rule isn’t for always. Mama needs her juice sometimes! But a nightly glass of wine might be the culprit of poor-quality sleep. It’s tricky, because even though alcohol is a depressant and will definitely make us drowsy (and on very-poor-decision nights, pass the f*ck out), it’s not quality sleep we’re getting. That’s why sometimes on mornings after a wild night, we can’t help but wake up super early, at least for a little while.Alcohol actually disrupts our sleep cycles, and as this study defines it, alters our sleep architecture so that we get a very disorganized version of rest that is actually not restorative at all. We know times are tough. If ya can’t part with a wind-down cocktail, aim for an earlier happier hour, or cut back on the days per week you choose to imbibe.
Make your bedroom conducive to sleep
This may sound frivolous, but it’s actually major. Try excluding electronics from the bedroom. Don’t sleep with your iPad at your bedside table. Maybe opt for an alarm clock, and plug your phone in in the other room. Save TV time for the living space. Also, make sure to clean up. A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind, but a clean room can bring deep peace. Make sure the temperature is right (not too warm, as your core body temp needs to drop for ideal sleep). We definitely recommend investing in comfy bedding and a quality mattress. We spend a third of our lives in bed, after all!