Below are some suggestions for improving your odds of getting a good night’s sleep:
- Adhere to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time (give or take 30 minutes) so your body is trained to release hormones at the right times. The more your sleep and wake times vary, the more work it will take for your body to find balance. And remember, you want your body to constantly return to a state of balance and calm, especially at the end of the day.
- Eat enough protein. Protein is a primary component of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes and internal organs – especially the heart and brain. Proteins are made of amino acids. When it comes to sleep, tryptophan is the amino acid that gets the most attention because it is the precursor (a required substance) for a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger that transmit messages between your nervous system and muscles) called serotonin, which influences mood and sleep. Tryptophan is readily available in animal foods, eggs, dairy products and some nuts and seeds.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but stop drinking 2 hours before bed. You now know that dehydration puts stress on your body, so it makes sense that your 100 trillion cells won’t be calm if you expect them to go to bed while they’re under stress.
- Never go to bed “hangry”! Eating a small, healthy snack (with protein, carb and/or fat…refer to Meal Planning Guidelines) before bed (IF YOU ARE HUNGRY) will help balance blood sugar and keep you from waking up even hungrier. Also avoid drinking liquids at least 2 hours before bed to avoid unwanted bathroom breaks. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcohol beverages before bed.
- Make sure your room is pitch black. Melatonin can only be created in the dark, so do everything you can to shut out all light from your eyes, whether that be using black out curtains or an eye mask.
- Try acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine views sleep issues and insomnia as agitation of the “shen” (spirit/mind), identifying patterns in the body that are causing agitation or imbalances in circulation and temperature.
- Use an app to monitor your habits (yes, I know these require screens!) Links below!: