Tips for Insomnia

SquirellGetting a great night’s sleep is important for so many reasons- immunity, metabolism, energy, the list goes on and on.  Most people don’t realize that getting a great night’s sleep is affected by how you woke up that morning, what you did during the day, and how you spent the hour before bed. Read on for the details…

When You Wake Up:

  • Immediately decrease stress by using a regular alarm clock instead of your cell phone.  Waking up to your cell phone triggers you to immediately check emails, news, weather and before you know it- you’re stressed and rushing out the door without breakfast, again. Give yourself time to peacefully and gradually wake up, and save the mobile device madness for later.

Throughout the Day:

  • Improve stress management through choosing foods with anti-inflammatory properties.  Leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds and almonds are excellent sources of Magnesium, which helps your brain to quiet down at night. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in wild salmon, walnuts, flax seeds and cauliflower decrease inflammation and keep blood sugar stable.  Avoid foods such as simple carbohydrates (sandwiches and pasta) which are more likely to create the classic post-meal “food coma”- and resultant coffee/soft drink craving to stay awake afterward. For more information see this article from NPR.
  • Avoid afternoon caffeine. Its effects last 4-5 hours on average, but can last up to 14 hours. If you struggle with anxiety or have trouble falling asleep, it’s best to try and eliminate caffeine altogether.
  • Drink a little tart cherry juice in the morning and evening.  According to the author of this study, “When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body’s natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep”. Cherries are an edible source of melatonin.  Other good sources include almonds, raspberries, and Goji Berries.

Before Bed:

  • Turn off all electronic devices 1 hour before bed.  Looking directly into a source of artificial light interferes with your brain’s production of Melatonin (essential for a proper sleep-wake cycle). Light reading is fine. This hour is a great time to simply wind down and engage in relaxing activities.
  • Have a cup of herbal tea. Red Rooibos, chamomile and mint are all great options with no caffeine. I absolutely adore the organic tea blends from Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Apply essential oils such as Lavender to your temples.
  • If racing thoughts keep you up at night, try journaling for 10-15 minutes before bed. Journaling gives anchor to your thoughts, and has a great way of taking the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. If you need help with starting, I recommend this journal with short prompts and plenty of space for writing and even doodling should the need arise.