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November 19, 2018

Can’t get to sleep?

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You haul yourself off to bed with a million details buzzing around your head and big surprise the coveted ZZZZ’s don’t happen.

Here are some tips for helping you get to sleep every night:

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, including cocoa, around 10 am.

Eating a well balanced diet throughout the day is always a plus. Some of my top tips are: eating 7-10 servings of vegetables & fruits daily, including beans often, whole grains everyday, nuts everyday, eat yogurt that contains live active cultures everyday, eating good sources of protein from poultry, fish, eggs and red meat often, changing them up, so you are rotating through the protein sources. Add ground flaxseed to you daily eating plan. 

Exercising during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep. Avoid working out later in the evening, it tends to wake you up, not put you to sleep.

Try avoiding eating your big meal at least 3-4 hours before you plan on going to bed. Digesting food needs energy and that energy production can keep you up for hours.

Avoid drinking loads of water about 2-3 hours before you go to bed. Those waking up for bathroom trips will play havoc with sleep patterns. For me, I drink most of my water intake during the day and stop drinking fluids around 7:30 pm.

Tart cherries contain melatonin, a substance that helps regulate sleep. Try drinking ¼ cup (60 mL) of tart cherry juice 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.

Put your devises away at least 2 hours before bedtime. Any devise that has an LED backlit screen interferes with your sleep by reducing melatonin production. In other words; you become more alert, the reverse of what you want to do just before you hit the sack.

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. Add some Epsom salts which contains magnesium, which helps relax muscles, and you have a formula for relaxation.

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. Or add a few drops to that warm bath with Epsom salts.

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. If you meditate, now is a great time to practice it. Also if you are into yoga there are many poses that can help promote sleep. I like Child’s Pose and Reclining Goddess Pose.

On a personal note:

I’m always on the look out for new ideas especially in the sleep department.

I have been following healthy sleep hygiene steps for years, and as a result I sleep well.  About six months ago I discovered a new method for falling asleep that is called The Cognitive Shuffle.

It was created by B.C.-based researcher Luc Beaudoin’s, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University. This method helps a person redirect their focus away from their list of worries or to do lists.

As soon as you’re ready to go to sleep you think of a word that doesn’t repeat any letters.

If you picked the word “winter” you’d think of words that start with the letter W and only stop thinking of words that start with W when you run out, then go to the letter and think of words that start with the I….since I’ve been using this method I rarely ever get to the third letter in any word I’ve thought about, because I have already fallen asleep. It’s a fabulous little word game trick that helps you shut down all other thoughts.

There is an app he created called mySleepButton but I haven’t used it. I found the word game totally works for me, along with my other sleep hygiene practices.

Recently I lost my mother and all these wonderful practices I have used for my sleep hygiene stopped working.

Grief is exhausting. It taxes your brain, your body and your soul. I think as a society we underestimate the emotional and physical strain grief creates.  My grief journey is unique to me. I believe there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to grieve, there is only your way.

I found that I as waking up in the middle of the night with a litany of worries and sadness. After about Month 2 of terrible sleeps, I decided to change my perception.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to complain about the endless nights of terrible sleeps and instead accept this waking up every hour or two as my new normal. That night I went to bed and fell asleep and when I woke up sad and worried, I told myself to think of a happy memory of my mom, and that I was safe and warm and loved. And miraculously I fell back to sleep fairly quickly. Every time I woke up that night, I did the same thing, so instead of running the endless list of worries and sadness that had kept me awake, I pushed the happy memory button and fell back to sleep. It felt as if I had rebooted my brain. This new perception and attitude is helping me, and I just wanted to share it will you.

One last note: Aileen Burford-Mason PHD author of The Healthy Brain recommends taking magnesium glycinate before bed.  Her book is on my bookshelf and I refer to it often. I won’t give any recommendations on how much magnesium to take because everyone is different, and you need to try the amounts that work for you. Your best bet is to buy her book. And no, this is not an ad.

If you have chronic sleep problems, see your family physician or a trusted health practitioner, there is help out there.

Picture: I had seen three movies at TIFF and had literally passed out on my bed. My son took this picture, I think to blackmail me with!

 

0 Comments on “Can’t get to sleep?

Rick
September 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Thanks,…I shall try some of these suggestions… 🙂

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