You haul yourself off to bed with a million details buzzing around your head and big surprise the coveted ZZZZ’s don’t happen.
Before you start popping sleeping pills here are some tips that might help you get some much needed shut eye:
- Carbohydrates like popcorn, brown rice, whole grain toast or crackers, a whole grain bagel, a small bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal, or even microwaving a small potato may help you nod off. Whenever you eat a starchy complex carbohydrate you raise up the blood levels of an amino acid called tryptophan which your brain turns into soothing serotonin. Snack size only, please. Avoid big servings at least 2 hours before bed.
- Say bye-bye to caffeine late in the day. Many woman as they approach menopause become caffeine sensitive, which explains why they could drink coffee before bed in their twenties, but not so much in their forties and onward. Although not as common the same caffeine sensitivity can happen to men as they age as well. Stop your last caffeinated beverage to 11:00 am.
- Try avoiding eating your big meal at least 4 hours before you plan on hitting the sack. Digesting food needs body systems energy and that energy production can keep you up for hours.
- Try snacking on a small banana and a glass of warm milk about an hour before bed. The tryptophan from the milk and the banana plus the carbs from both foods are a great combo for helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Cherries, especially dried tart cherries contain melatonin, a substance that helps regulate sleep. Try eating ¼ cup (60 mL) about an hour before bed time; don’t forget to brush your teeth afterwards.
- Avoid spicy foods too close to bedtime; they can cause heartburn which will keep you awake.
- Alcohol may make you feel sleepy but it interrupts natural sleep rhythms. Avoid alcohol close to bed time.
Sleep researchers also advise:
- Turning off your computer and TV one to two hours before shut eye, the light from both the computer and TV wakes up your brain.
- Keeping your room dark, cool, and as quiet as possible.
- To shut out outside noises a white noise machine can help. Or try a fan set on low.
- Your body naturally cools down as it falls asleep. Having a warm bath before bed will help promote the cooling cycle that promotes sleep.
- Lavender is a relaxing essential oil touted for sleep promotion. Spraying some real lavender in your room or on your pillow may help as well.
- If you have a million things on your mind writing them down before hitting the sack can help free your brain up for sleeping.
- Focus on relaxed deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for a count of seven. Try to picture a calm relaxing place.
- Aileen Burford-Mason PHD author of Eat Well Age Better recommends taking magnesium before bed. And for chronic sleep issues 5-HTP can help. Check out her book and her fabulous chapter on Sleep.
If you have chronic sleep problems see your family physician.