Lack of sleep not only affects our level of coping with stress, but decreased sleep has been shown to cause an increase in appetite, cravings and weight.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality. The following are 5 of the tips I consider most important to start with:
1. Blue light emitted from electronic devices such as iPad, cell phone, laptop, computer screen, iPod, TV and even alarm clock disturb your sleep. It suppresses your melatonin; a hormone that regulates sleep and it can take several hours for your melatonin level to rise again. So turn off all electronic devices before bed (ideally 2-3 hours, but try for at least 1 hour), do not keep near your bed or if you must, in the case of a cell phone for emergency call, turn upside down. Cover your alarm clock with a cloth and do not fall asleep watching TV.
2. We all go through several cycles of sleep each night and some of us are more sensitive to arousal during the light phases of sleep. Sleeping with a white noise machine, fan or nature sound machine can prevent those hyperarousals.
3. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and it takes 5-7 hours to eliminate half of it from your body. So if you drink a cup of coffee at 2 in the afternoon, at 9 pm, only half is gone. Stop drinking caffeine in the morning and remember that caffeine is in iced tea, chocolate and many other foods and drinks.
4. That glass of wine or frozen margarita that you had in the evening may have relaxed you, but alcohol disrupts your sleep cycles. You may fall asleep easily, but you probably won't sleep as deeply and you may wake up more frequently. If you're going to have a cocktail, drink early.
5. This is the most important... have a regular routine every night. Just as we have a bedtime ritual for our children that prepares them for the transition to sleep, we benefit by having a set routine that winds down our day and prepares our mind and body for the transition from busyness of our hectic day to peaceful sleep. Routines can be as individual as we are but at least 15 minutes length is essential to enable adequate time to shut down the high-wired brain. I frequently recommend a simple brushing the teeth, writing in a gratitude journal or worry journal to release the day's concerns and a few moments of thought about all of your accomplishments for the day. Notice, no negative thoughts at bedtime. Placing positive thoughts in our mind before sleep enhances more peaceful sleep.
If you try all of these tips and still lie awake at night, there are several other measures to try. Give me a call for a free consultation. Sleep is not a luxury. Pleasant dreams.