Photo of bedroom with text overlay: 11 Tips to Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

11 Tips to Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Do you ever envy Sleeping Beauty? If so, you may be one of the millions of people who don’t get enough sleep.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep is necessary for proper brain function.

Sleep helps our brains prepare for the next day by its own cleaning process. It also helps us to “commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation” (Harvard Health).

A lack of proper rest can cause our brains to suffer. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life, “One of the fastest ways to hurt your brain is to get less than seven or eight hours of sleep at night.”  He goes on to say, “Getting less than six hours of sleep at night has been associated with lower overall blood flow to the brain, and hurts your mood, focus, and memory for days after.”

Proper amounts of sleep can help you stay healthy physically.

Sleep allows our bodies to recover. It’s involved in repairing our hearts and blood vessels, even out hormone levels, and build our immune systems. Sleep is absolutely vital for cell renewal.

A lack of proper sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, elevated hormone levels (including insulin), and altered immune function.

Sleep contributes to good mental health.

As mentioned above, the proper amount of sleep can make learning new information easier. It can also help improve problem-solving skills. It assists with decision-making, creativity, and focus as well.

When we don’t get enough sleep, we may suffer from irritability, impatience,  or depression. We may also have trouble concentrating or handling change.

These are only a few of the reasons proper rest can be so important to our overall wellness, but you can see how critical it is. If it’s that important, what can we do to make sure we’re getting enough of it? Here are some tips I found:

Tips to Improve Sleep

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend, but sticking to a schedule can help regulate your body’s clock.
  • Make sure your bedroom is restful and relaxing. Of all the places in your home, your bedroom should be your haven; the place you can go to de-stress and relax. Some considerations for whether it fits the bill might be temperature, amount of light coming in, distractions such as noise, TV, etc.
  • Sleep on a good mattress. A comfortable mattress can make all the difference. I speak from experience here – when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my doctor’s first piece of advice to me was that I get a good mattress.
  • Get regular exercise, but don’t exercise within a couple of hours of going to bed. Participating in regular physical exercise can help us sleep better, but for some people exercising close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Meditate. Studies have shown that regular meditation can help you sleep better.
  • Avoid eating heavy foods late at night. Eating rich or heavy foods can increase your body temperature (ever heard of the ‘meat sweats’?), and of course, cause indigestion, which makes it hard to fall asleep.
  • Stay away from caffeine late in the day. We usually think of coffee and tea as the major caffeine culprits, but remember cola and chocolate also contain caffeine.
  • Give yourself an hour or so to wind down before bed. Do some sort of calming activity such as reading to give your mind and body time to wind down a little before you go to bed.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Obviously this wouldn’t apply if you spend most of your daylight hours in there as well due to illness. In that case, just turn off devices an hour or two before bed. Studies have shown that the blue light from these devices can make it hard to fall asleep, and of course, if you haven’t turned off notifications, all those dings and buzzes can wake you in the middle of the night.
  • If you can’t fall asleep, don’t continue to lie there. If you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes or so, it may be a good idea to get up, go in another room, and do something relaxing, such as reading or coloring until you get sleepy.
  • If you continue to have trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. Sleep deprivation is too big a problem to ignore. Since it can affect all areas of our wellness, it’s important that we do everything we can to help improve the quantity and quality of sleep we get. This includes asking our doctor for help if we need it.

Sleep is critical to good health, but many of us don’t get enough of it. Finding things that help us sleep better can impact our wellness in many ways. It may take a little experimentation because just as with everything else, what works for one person might not work for another, but a good night’s rest is worth the work.

What are your tips for getting better sleep? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

 

Sources:

Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. (New York, NY: Harmony Books, 1998), 80 – 81.

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

https://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/how-to-get-more-sleep.html

https://www.sleep.org/articles/get-more-sleep/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

22 comments

    1. Thanks so much Wendi! I don’t always do so well with some of these either, especially the TV before bed thing…. I do normally get around 7 or 7 1/2 hours of sleep, but it’s not always restful; that’s just one of those things with Fibro…. I know I’m fortunate that I’m able to sleep that much, though. Many people with chronic illnesses aren’t able to sleep much at all. I haven’t given up caffeine completely, but I do try to avoid it after 3:00pm. That seems to be the ‘golden hour’ for me.

      1. I also watch tv before bed and I love it. It is the one way that I can usually escape for a bit 🙂 . Hope you sleep well tonight! And thank you again for always being there to help others. You are such a great friend.

      2. Awww… you’re far too kind Wendi! I hope you sleep well and have sweet dreams.

  1. Great advice Terri! I have no problem getting to sleep, always so tired I’m gone in minutes. Any advice for the wake up after 3 hours, type of sleeper and then stay wide awake for about 2 hours or more, going back to sleep an hour or two before the alarm goes off!

    1. Thanks so much Marie! Ugh….that sleep for 3 hours, then lie awake for a couple of hours is awful. I wish I had some advice. When that happens to me, I usually play a little game so my mind doesn’t get busy thinking about everything – I call it the alphabet game. I pick a category like animals, fruits and veggies, places, etc., and then go down the alphabet naming an item in the given category for each letter; ie, apple, blueberries, cherries, dates…. Believe it or not, it calms my mind and I often find myself going back to sleep before I get to Z. Hope this helps!

      1. Love it Terri, some times I focus on breathing, or I meditate or pick up my phone and write for my blog but I’ll definitely try your suggestion! If anyone else has any tips I’d be delighted. I can take a low dose amytriptyline but was told they are linked to dementia… so I try to limit my use! Xx

  2. Great tips Terri, if I don’t get the correct amount of sleep it makes me feel ill. I’m a bit naughty as if I can’t sleep I play cards online from my kindle. I know I shouldn’t but it works for me 🙂 x

    1. Thanks so much Bar! I must admit, there have been times I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night and spent an hour or so on Pinterest…. 😁 I think we each have to find what works for us, and if playing cards on your Kindle works for you, why not do it?

    1. Thanks for sharing Holly! Isn’t it amazing how our brains start trying to solve problems as soon as we try to sleep? Finding something that keeps us from that is truly a gift.

  3. Loved the suggestions. Especially the one about when you’re able to sleep, don’t continue lying there. There were times when I had problems sleeping and toss and turn there. I constantly look at the clock and try to force myself to go to sleep. I should just get up from now on until I’m more relaxed.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! That whole ‘not lying there when you can’t sleep’ thing has made a world of difference for me. When I just lie there trying to go back to sleep, I find myself getting stressed out, which of course, makes me even more wide awake. Now I just get up and read until I start to feel tired again. If you try it, I hope it works for you too!

  4. Brilliant reminder about just how vital sleep really is. I know my sleep isn’t great, and there are times when it’s downright atrocious. I have just invested in a decent memory foam pillow that seems quite soft, as I’ve got to the point of being fed up lying down & getting up in so much pain with my neck and shoulders. A mattress should really be next on my list because mine is incredibly uncomfortable; I’m glad you were recommended to get a new, comfortable one when you were first diagnosed because I imagine it would make a big difference. xx

    1. Thanks for sharing Caz! I’m sorry to hear you have sleep issues also. Unfortunately, with chronic illness, I think there are just going to be those periods where we don’t sleep well no matter what we do. I’ve just learned to accept that there are going to be those times and not let thinking about how much sleep I’m not getting become a stressor. I just do the things I can to help increase my chances of getting some good sleep and don’t worry about the rest. I’m glad you found a pillow that works for you. I can’t tell you how many pillows I’ve bought trying to find one that works for me. Ugh! I hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Hey my friend, you’re about to have to set up a brand new sleep routine.😊 That was the one thing that I kept seeing repeated when I was researching this — make sure you set up a ‘sleep routine’ and not just leave it to chance…. Hope you’re doing well and getting excited about your next steps! Hugs!

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