Do you sometimes toss and turn at night because you have trouble falling asleep? And do you sometimes check to see what time it is, only to notice that you have a few hours of sleep left before your alarm clock rings? If you are struggling to get good quality sleep, the tips below might help you. I also provide a specific strategy that you can use when your thoughts interfere with your sleep.
Exercising regularly does not mean going to the gym every day and breaking out in a sweat until you have no more energy left. Although some people may love working out, others might prefer to get their exercise from other physical activities, such as walking the dog, running outside, or having a swim. Whatever activity you choose make sure you enjoy it so that you don’t feel like it’s a chore. Choosing an exercise you don’t enjoy decreases the chances that you will maintain it. Also, make sure that the exercise is long enough for you to feel tired at bedtime. Some people may be satisfied with 5 minutes of exercise whereas others need a good hour to feel some impact. Make sure to exercise on a level that suits your needs and enjoyment.
At bedtime when we’re free from the distractions of our day, our minds may feel tempted to ruminate, worry, or analyze things. For many people bedtime is the only portion of the day that involves rest and recuperation. Therefore, use these 7-8 hours wisely in order to feel rejuvenated the next morning. Although “scheduling worrying for a later time” is easier said than done it is not impossible. The first step to having better sleep is noticing that your thoughts are preventing you from falling asleep. Once you notice your thoughts interfering with sleep, make a conscious effort to shift them into the present moment, which hopefully involves a quiet, dark, and cozy room. When you shift your mind to the present moment, you may notice how much more peaceful it is than your worries or concerns. We need this type of cozy and comfortable environment in order to sleep better, so don’t underestimate the power of noticing distracting thoughts, and then shifting them. Practice this technique every night when you struggle to fall asleep. With practice, you will improve, and so will your sleep.
Feeling uncomfortable after a heavy meal can keep you up for hours and being hungry during the night can also interfere with your sleep. Make sure to eat a light meal for dinner if you’re planning to sleep shortly after eating. Also make sure to limit your sweets intake before bedtime because the energy derived from the sugar will likely keep you up for longer than desired. I recommend slow digesting and nutritious foods before bedtime such as sweet potatoes, oats, and brown rice, as they will likely keep you full until the morning.