Do you wish you could sleep like a baby? Do you wish you could fall asleep and STAY asleep all night? Do you wish if you woke up to go to the bathroom, you could easily fall back to sleep? Do your kids have a bedtime routine? Then why shouldn’t you?
I seem to have little to no trouble falling asleep BUT these days, I have trouble staying asleep. It seems like after 2 or 3 hours, my body wants to wake up and then I can’t get back to sleep. I have tried many natural alternatives but most leave me feeling like a zombie in the morning. Mornings are rough with the MS so I don’t need to complicate things with any thing that may have helped me sleep during the night.
Hubby researched this and came up with a pre-bedtime routine—a.k.a practicing good “sleep hygiene”— which they said would help me fall asleep more easily at night and stay asleep until morning. Honestly, some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t but I think it is an MS thing….. So if you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, here are some times which might help:
#1: Stay on Schedule.
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day—even on weekends—is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock, which experts call your circadian rhythm. Staying consistent also means the quality of your sleep will be better. I know this one is tough but it really does make a difference. Most nights, I am in bed or at least headed to bed by 10:15PM. It allows me to fall asleep easily but it doesn’t always guarantee I will stay asleep during the night. Believe it or not, in the beginning I actually wrote it in my planner to go to bed at 10PM just do I would remember. LOL
#2: Be Mindful of What you Eat and Drink—and When.
I grew up hearing “don’t eat before bed” but it never really made sense to me. Then while on my weightless journey, I never ate at least 2 hours before bed because I didn’t want to gain weight. LOL. We all know nicotine and caffeine are stimulants and take hours to wear off, so they make it harder to fall—and stay—asleep. The key is to avoid them for 4 – 6 hours before bed. Alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, BUT it lowers the quality of your shut-eye. Go easy on any liquids before you bed to prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
#3: Create a Comfy Bedroom.
Is your bedroom an oasis? Do you feel relaxed when you walk in or is it full of clutter and you get stressed? Your room should be peaceful and conducive to sleeping by keeping it quiet, cool, and dark. Earplugs can help if you live in a noisy area. Noisy environments interrupt your sleep and reduce its quality, even when you don’t realize that it’s happening. Outside light can keep you awake, so try room-darkening shades. Did you know your mattress and pillow also make a big difference? Ideally, mattresses should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows should be replaced annually. A mattress should feel comfortable, and if you sleep with a partner, make sure it’s big enough so you both have plenty of space. I find the smallest noise wakes me up so I sleep with a fan going year round. This blocks out the sound and the hum is soothing and helps me to fall asleep.
#4: Start an Evening Ritual.
Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body it’s time to settle down. Do you read with a “paper” book or do you read on a kindle or electronic devise? Believe it or not, watching TV, looking at a laptop, tablet or smart phone screen before going to bed can trigger your brain to stay awake. The safest strategy is to just put all electronics away in the evening, or at the very least, about 30 minutes before bed. Give yourself 20 minutes before bed for the one thing that calms you down. Maybe you read a book, do a guided meditation, sketch, or have some tea. Can’t shut your brain off? Try “brain dumping” by writing everything down before you go to bed. This empties your mind and allows it to relax just long enough to fall asleep.
#5: Don’t Watch the Clock.
Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful until you feel drowsy.
What is your nightly routine to help you sleep at night? Have a tip to help you relax? We would love to hear from you…