So one of the number one things I talk to with my patients/anyone in life about is the importance of sleep hygiene. This may be one of the most ironic things ever because anyone that knows me knows that I never sleep. Not only have I never required a lot of sleep (worst child ever award) but I have a hard time falling asleep and often wake up multiple times during the night. Regardless of how long/little I sleep I do pop up most days at 4:30ish ready to start the day.
We all know sleep (more importantly sleep quality) is so important for a variety of reasons but especially for muscle recovery when you are training and increasing your exercise. As mentioned a few times on this blog my sleep the past few weeks has gone from minimal to non existent. Especially during the week I will fall asleep for a few hours, wake up, and toss and turn for the rest of the night. This weekend was the first time in forever that I was able to get some solid sleep and I realized that my excuse of “I’m not a good sleeper” doesn’t get me out of doing things to help myself. Below are some of the tips I give out to my patients that I will attempt to try in the upcoming week.
Only use your bed for sleep and sex – Your body needs to get used to associating your bed for sleep. Doing other things like watching TV, reading, etc just trick your body into believe it’s okay to be awake in bed. You are better off nodding off on the couch reading and going into your bed.
Give yourself a bedtime routine – We always give kids bedtime routines so they can come down and process it is time to sleep and we as adults can learn from this. Try a 15 minute routine each night before bed for a week or two. Use lotions that you ONLY use for nighttime (not during the day), take a calming bath, read the same article each night, etc. Make sure you are even keeping the same routine with things like brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, shutting off the lights, etc. This won’t help overnight but eventually this will teach your body its time for bed.
Keep your bedroom cool – It’s better to go to bed in a colder environment with a blanket or two then to go to bed to warm. You can always take a blanket off but your body temperature will rise in the middle of the night and waking up sweating is only going to make you more alert and less likely to fall back asleep.
Don’t keep a clock in your sight – We have all woken up, stared at the clock saying “I only have 4 more hours of sleep, 3 more, etc”. This just makes you more anxious which makes it harder to fall back asleep. If you can’t see a clock you could have 4 hours to sleep or 4 minutes but you only will know once your alarm goes off.
Have a snack before bed – Especially if you eat dinner very early, having something before bed can not only help regulate your blood sugar but also can become part of a bedtime routine (see above). Hunger will certainly wake you up in the middle of the night so having something with carbs and protein before bed can alleviate the possibility of this.
Cut back on the caffeine – That 2nd cup of coffee in the afternoon has the potential to stay with you into the night. If you are only having it due to routine try having half decaf/half regular for a week, and then cutting back to decaf. Also watch out for foods and other sources of caffeine you may be consuming at night (yes coffee ice cream has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee).
Don’t nap – As tempting as it can be it’s best to keep yourself awake until nighttime so you are exhausted and fall (and stay) asleep quicker. Naps can create very unhealthy sleep cycles and are the cause of a lot of peoples insomnia.
While I could talk forever about healthy sleep habits it’s best to pick one or two things to focus on and incorporate into your life so your don’t feel overwhelmed and give up completely. If your sleep habits get really bad and are affecting you all day consider seeing a sleep specialty or therapist to help! Hope you have a wonderful day and a GREAT nights sleep tonight! 🙂