Many Americans struggle to get the sleep they need each night. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 48% of us have trouble sleeping once in a while and 22% of us have trouble sleeping almost every night. While many people turn to prescription medication or over-the-counter sleep aids as a remedy, this is not the right solution for everyone. If you prefer to approach problems from a more naturalistic perspective, there are things you can do that may help you get the sleep you need tonight and every night.
1. Watch What You Eat
While there is research that links sleep, weight, and diet success, that is not what we are referring to here. In order to protect your ability to sleep, you need to be eating the right food at the right time during the day. While that sounds a lot like dieting, the key difference is that when you are eating to sleep, the right food and the right time may be different than it would be if your goal was to lose weight.
To eat for a good night sleep, choose foods that are high in vitamin B like walnuts and whole grains. Skip the snack foods and keep the cookies in the jar, opting instead for a banana or a hardboiled egg. These both contain tryptophan which is the chemical most commonly associated with turkey that helps you fall asleep. You should also avoid things like caffeine, alcohol – yes that includes wine – and eating large meals late in the day. All of these either keep you from falling asleep or disturb your sleep over the course of the night.
As a bonus, most foods that help you sleep are also healthy enough to also help you lose weight so you may be able to watch your weight one way and win on both fronts!
2. Don’t Wait to Work-out
Exercise is actually one of the best things you can do to help get the sleep you need. It helps relieve anxiety which is one of the most common causes of sleepless nights. It also elevates your mood which can make sticking to a sleep schedule and practicing other good sleep habits easier to follow. However, don’t wait until late in the day to squeeze in your workout.
While working out at night may make you tired, it won’t help you sleep, at least not if you do it too close to bed time. Many people think this is because exercising gets your heart pumping and fills you with energy, but the real culprit is your body temperature. Our bodies cool down when it is time to sleep and going to bed with a body heated up from working out can steal your sleep. The key is finding the optimal time during your day to exercise.
3. Have a Drink
Have a drink, just not one that contains alcohol or caffeine. In fact, drinking clear, clean water can go a long way toward helping you get the sleep you need. The key is to stay hydrated all day long as drinking a bunch of water right before bed will have you in and out of bed to use the bathroom all night which won’t help your insomnia.
- Sleep Doctor vs. My Regular Doctor: What’s the Difference? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Self Treating Sleep Disorders: When the Pros Act Like Rookies (valleysleepcenter.com)
- What Happens During a Sleep Study? (valleysleepcenter.com)