You just can’t sleep. And, you’re probably losing sleep over losing sleep! Inevitably your body is suffering from not getting enough rest. You’re probably fatigued and drowsy throughout the day and your body fights to stay awake. Sometimes your body may even resort to what sleep doctors call “microsleep” where the brain simply shuts down for a few seconds to force a few seconds of sleep, even though you probably don’t feel it.
Some health side effects from lack of sleep include:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of productivity
- Less willpower
- Risk of obesity
- Impaired thinking
- Panic attacks
- Lowered immunity
- Low grade inflammation
- Accelerated aging
- Early death
Wow! Not such good news for people who can’t sleep. But, what to do? Take a sleeping pill?
Well, there’s more risks involved in taking meds that put you to sleep at night than benefits in the long run. They are habit forming, abused easily, and come with side effects like daytime drowsiness and impaired mental judgement.
A most disturbing side effect is engaging in activities, but having no memory of them. The FDA calls this side effect “complex sleep-related behavior.” Duh!
What to Do When You Can’t Sleep
If you’re looking for something safe, natural and reliable, there are several things you can do to promote healthy sleep patterns. It does take a little discipline, but the pay off will be well worth it for the rest of your life.
1. Exercise regularly
Yes, it’s important and you knew this was coming. Exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime and your body temperature will begin to naturally drop right around bedtime. You’ll feel a good kind of tired and ready to go to sleep. Don’t underestimate the importance of mild to moderate exercise in helping to establish good sleep patterns.
2. Don’t eat large meals before bedtime
Acid reflux often occurs and indigestion is very common especially when eating before bedtime. Eat an early dinner and calm your stomach with herbal tea or something soothing about an hour before bedtime.
3. Establish a sleep schedule
Your body responds much better when it becomes accustomed to going to sleep at a certain time each night. Going to bed on time and getting up at the same time has a major effect in creating habits that the body responds to. When it’s time to go to sleep, your body is ready. Breaking your sleep schedule can lead to insomnia.
4. Avoid caffeine at night
Don’t drink caffeinated beverages after the mid-afternoon. Some people have to cut out caffeine completely to sleep well. Learn to drink other soothing beverages like herbal teas that can become your comfort drinks.
5. Beware of alcohol
Alcohol can make you sleep, but it also commonly disrupts sleep patterns later in the night.
6. Create a sanctuary for sleeping
Your bedroom should be a place where there is no food, no excessive noise, no work or other distractions. Make it your oasis away from the world. You’ll find that you will look forward to falling asleep there and your body will respond accordingly.
7. Establish good sleep rituals
Again, structure may be all that you need to really fall asleep. Not only should you establish a sleep schedule, but you should also establish simple sleep rituals like reading a good book before bed or taking a warm bath. Something enjoyable and calming is best.
8. Get comfy
Be sure to have the best mattress you can afford. After all, you’re probably spending at least a third of your life on it! Isn’t it at least as important as buying your car? Make sure you have a comfortable pillow as well.
For best health, it’s wise to choose nontoxic, organic mattresses and pillows to avoid other issues with allergy triggers and chemical toxins that may disrupt sleep as well.
Also, if you need a noise machine or earplugs to block disturbances, use them. Guard your sleep space and make it your comfort zone.
9. Keep a journal or pray
You may not be much of a writer, but putting your thoughts down briefly in a journal is a way to unload the problems of the day and slow the mind down. Or better yet, unload your affairs of the day to God through prayer. This will help you put cares aside so you can actually sleep.
10. Put down your smart phone
Uh-oh! Really? Yes!
Electronics like smart phones, tablets, computers and TVs should be avoided before bedtime. The light that emits from electronics signal the brain that it’s time to stay up, not go to bed. It’s not a good idea to try to go to sleep watching TV for the same reason.
So, if you can’t sleep, but want to go the natural route for healthy sleep solutions, use a little discipline and forethought in planning for a good night’s rest. This is often all a person needs to resume good sleep patterns.
Other helpful things you can do to support good sleep habits is to add foods to your diet that promote sleep and take natural sleep aids such as herbal or nutritional supplements. If all else fails, of course, discuss serious sleep issues with your doctor for additional help.
For more information about Toxic Free, Natural, Green Living, visit us at WiselyGreen.com and pick up our FREE Healthy Living TOOL KIT to help you get started living a healthier life in one week. Follow us on Facebook.