Self

7 Habits To Help You Drift Back To Dreamland When You Just Can't Sleep

Photo: Rido / Shutterstock.com
Woman stretches her arms and smiles after a good night of sleep.

What is an ideal night’s sleep? It’s different for everybody but the one thing we can all agree on is that good sleep habits are essential to good health.

It’s the quality of the sleep that matters most and waking up refreshed and recharged for the new day is not something to take for granted, especially as we age.

We all know that getting restful sleep reduces stress, helps us maintain proper body weight, keeps our brains sharp, and supports our immune system — and these are just a few ways quality sleep impacts our health.

But what if we just can't sleep? Or what if we wake in the middle of the night and can't drift back to dreamland?

There are simple things we can do that will have a cumulative effect over time resulting in deep, regenerative sleep night after night.

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How To Get A Good Night's Sleep

Here is a list of habits that will ensure excellent slumber:

1. Clear your mind and your body will follow.

Having quiet time, meditating, praying, or focusing on gratitude right before sleep is invaluable. Take slow deep breaths to get yourself into this relaxed state. Follow your breath gently as you breathe in and out and this will calm the body, mind, and your whole self, setting you up for deep, relaxing slumber.

If thoughts try to creep in, just let them go and focus right back on your breathing. If you can do this for at least 5-10 minutes you will feel so much more relaxed and ready for sleep.

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2. Eat and drink wisely.

Pay attention to what you eat before bedtime and allow two-three hours after dinner before sleep. Eating too much or too late interferes with sleeping because your body is devoting its energy to digestion. What you choose to eat as your final meal makes a big difference too. Eating whole, natural foods will help tremendously as compared to heavy, rich, and processed foods.

Reduce starchy carbs and sugar in the evenings which can crank up your brain making it hard to shut down and relax. Having too much alcohol has the opposite effect you might think as well, so ideally drink no more than one or two adult beverages.

Finally, one of the most important guidelines is when to impose a caffeine curfew. This depends on the person, but a good rule of thumb is no caffeine after noon. Finally, if you find yourself too hungry at bedtime to fall asleep, think of something natural and easy to digest like an apple with possibly a little almond butter on the side.

And the notion of milk before bed is generally not a good one. Liquid dairy is notorious for causing inflammation in the nasal passages that can impede breathing and intensify snoring.

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3. You are what you watch in dreamland.

Choose wisely when to watch TV, especially what you watch just before bed. It matters what you take with you in your subconscious mind to the types of dream experiences you will have. With so many options available these days watching movies/shows that have too much conflict, violence, or suspense at the end of the night can build up too much adrenaline.

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The body will have a challenging time detoxing from the tension to shift in time for peaceful slumber. Save this type of content for earlier in the evening or maybe over the weekend during the day.

The better choice for the last content you consume is something with redeeming value, which is positive in nature and makes you feel good about life and living. The same concept applies to reading material.

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4. Downshift your body activity later in the day.

Engage in vigorous activity, and exercise or work out as early in the day as possible. For obvious reasons, pushing these to later in the day or evening makes it more difficult for the body to shift gears. If the evening time is the only time available you have to exercise, then better than not doing it at all, but the earlier the better so you can get into a relaxed state in time for bed.

5. Find your cool zone.

Sleep at the right temperature for you by regulating the temperature in your bedroom and your bed for optimal comfort. Trying to fall asleep either too hot or too cold won’t help your cause, nor will having to get up in the middle of the night to adjust the heat or A/C.

Set yourself up for success before you get into bed so that you are comfortable for the entire night and layer your covers so you have them at hand to add or remove if necessary.

RELATED: 11 Things That Happen To Your Heart, Mind & Body When You Don't Get Enough Sleep

6. Welcome the abyss, make your bedroom as dark as possible.

Some people are more sensitive to light than others, but in general, having a dark room is a cue to your internal biorhythms that it’s time for sleep and will help you stay asleep longer. And that means staying off your devices emitting artificial light as well.

7. Silence and place your mobile phone at least 10 feet from where you sleep.

Awakening to something that can wait until morning can derail your efforts. It can trigger the brain prematurely that it’s time to get up and make it difficult and sometimes impossible to fall back asleep. Also, keeping the phone too easy to reach makes it more tempting to pick up and that can have you scrolling when you should be sleeping.

Following these guidelines will get you and keep you in dreamland longer.

When you get better sleep, you are increasing your overall health and wellness exponentially. Waking up feeling rested and refreshed, you’ll have the energy, clear mind, and confidence to welcome the new day in the most invigorated way possible.

RELATED: 8 Signs You're Sleep Deprived That Have Nothing To Do With Being Tired

Becky Smith is a Certified Health Coach and Wellness Expert with a background in Menu Development/Food & Beverage procurement in the restaurant industry. She shares her knowledge of healthy food and healthy lifestyle habits to help people achieve their own health and wellness goals and to have the motivation and discipline that it takes to succeed. 

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