Lady in bed

Answer These 5 Questions to Enhance Your Sleep Without Medications

Insomnia can make you feel tempted to reach for prescription sleep medications. Those sleep aids can come with some dangerous side effects, though, and the health risks can be greater than the benefits for your sleep. So how can you find relief from insomnia without resorting to pills and sleep aids? You can start with these questions:

Do You Need a New Mattress?

If you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, your old bed may be to blame. While the debate rages on as to when to replace mattresses, most experts recommend investing in a new mattress if your current one is not providing proper support. Understanding support needs is critical when shopping for your new mattress as well, since certain mattress types are better suited for certain sleeping preferences and body types. For instance, back, stomach and combo sleepers may find that opting for a hybrid bed like the DreamCloud will provide the versatile support they need to improve their sleep hygiene. If your prefer to curl up on your side at night, then investing in a softer mattress like Saatva may provide enhanced alignment and support.

Is Your Bedroom Designed for Sleep?

This may seem like a silly question, since bedrooms are traditionally where we sleep at night, but how your bedroom is set up can determine how well you sleep through the night. For example, certain bedroom colors are more soothing than others. Soft shades of purple, green, and blue can help you drift off to dreamland faster, but you can also go with a bold black for better sleep. To maintain that sense of calm throughout your bedroom, stick with soft colors for decor and bedding as well, but feel free to add a pop of color with a random throw pillow. For even better sleep, you can also adjust the light and temperature in your bedroom at night.

Do You Watch TV Right Before Bed?

Falling asleep with the TV on is a common relaxation technique for many people. As it turns out, though, watching TV before bed is actually one of the worst ways to soothe yourself to sleep at night. While you may fall asleep with the TV on, you are less likely to stay asleep and your are less likely to experience the deep sleep needed to feel refreshed in the morning. Your best bet for improved sleep is to turn your TV off and keep it out of your bedroom. If you find yourself unable to sleep without a TV, you can also try dimming the screen and turning off autoplay.

Are You Getting Adequate Exercise?

When you just can’t seem to switch your body and brain off at night, you may need to reevaluate your exercise habits. You see, your body needs sleep to restore and replace energy, so the more energy you burn during the day, the more rest you need to feel recovered in the morning. To maximize this effect, try upping your workout routine to include at least 30 minutes of intense cardio a few times each week. You can always work out a little harder, if good sleep still feels elusive, but limit exercise to the morning hours to minimize negative impacts on your sleep.

Do You Eat Dinner Late at Night?

Having a little protein before bed can help you stay asleep longer, but heavy meals have the potential to ruin your sleep. In fact, many of your diet choices can have an impact on the quality of your sleep. Avoiding those heavy meals a few hours before bedtime can help, but you can also cut back on processed foods to prepare your body for sleep. Another sneaky culprit that could be affecting your sleep is caffeine. You know that drinking coffee before bedtime can make it harder to sleep, but there are some hidden caffeine sources to be aware of, too.

When you can’t sleep, you can’t fully function. With the tips above, hopefully you can restore your sleep hygiene without reaching for potentially dangerous sleep aids. If these tips don’t work and you are still struggling with insomnia, it may be time to consult your doctor.

Guest Blogger Gabriel Patel | Photo Credit: Rawpixel


5 Tips for Beating Sleeplessness Without Medication

Written by guest blogger/author, Gabriel Patel

Sleeping poorly? Waking up tired? Feeling groggy all day? You’re not alone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over one-third of Americans fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis. Since sleep deprivation causes disruptions to various brain functions, people who don’t get enough sleep often face challenges with decision making, problem solving, lowered immunity, mood control, and memory. They also have a heightened risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Although prescription sleep aids can help, they come with many side effects and can be extremely addictive. So, instead of heading to the pharmacy, try out these natural sleep hygiene tips for healthy ways to improve your sleep.

1. Exercise Regularly

Did you know that you can track your fitness progress by analyzing your sleep? Physical activity—even in small amounts—can result in a huge improvement to your sleep quality. Exercise increases the amount of time your body spends in the deepest, most restorative level of sleep that is vital to healthy daytime functioning. Getting your body moving can also help you fall asleep more easily at night because it burns up excess energy in your body, preventing restlessness at the end of the day. Ideally, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.  You don’t have to pay for the gym, you can try this no-gym workout resource to get in peak shape. Getting outside in the natural sunlight for a morning jog can help reset your natural sleep-wake cycle, while working out in the afternoon can help your body relax more easily in the evening.

2. Make Your Bedroom More Comfortable

According to The Alaska Sleep Clinic, a comfortable sleep environment is paramount to a good night’s sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool, and quiet. If it’s not, consider putting up blackout curtains, purchasing a white noise machine, and turning your thermostat down in the evening. If your bed isn’t very comfortable, you may want to buy a new mattress and replace your bedding with something soft and breathable, like bamboo or organic cotton sheets. It’s also a good idea to remove clutter, workout equipment, and electronics from the bedroom and stick to calming décor.

3. Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night

Our bodies run on a natural sleep-wake cycle. When we follow a regular bedtime, our bodies have a much easier time falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning. So, try to go to bed at the same time each night and stop sleeping in on the weekends. Aside from improving your sleep quality, this will also help your body regulate other functions, including digestion.

4. Cut Back on Caffeine

If you’re sleep-deprived, you may be relying on caffeine to keep you going during the day. Unfortunately, consuming caffeine as early as noon can prevent you from falling asleep at night. Feeling restless in the evening or waking up frequently during the night may be indicators that caffeine is disrupting your sleep.

5. Fix Your Nighttime Habits

Most of us have bad bedtime habits that prevent us from falling or staying asleep. For example, watching TV in the evening encourages us to delay our bedtime—while the light from the screen prevents the production of sleep hormones in the body. This goes the same for your phone, which should be put away at least 30 minutes before you hit the sack. Practice a calming bedtime routine to help your body relax and free your mind from any stressors or nagging items on your to-do list. Some great before-bed activities include yoga, meditation, reading, or taking a warm bath. Finally, avoid snacking on fatty foods or those high in sugar, since these prevent sleep onset. If you look forward to your bedtime snack, reach for a banana, some almonds, or sugar-free oatmeal instead.

There’s nothing more frustrating than lying awake at night, unable to sleep as you watch the clock tick closer to your early-morning alarm. Although it’s normal to have difficulty sleeping once in a while, particularly during times of stress or upheaval, chronic sleeplessness can quickly get in the way of your physical health and mental functioning. Instead of turning to addictive sleeping pills, use these wellness and lifestyle tips to help you slumber more soundly.

photo credit: unsplash