A good nights sleep can be hard to come by and many people – especially women – struggle with insomnia.
What is a good night of sleep?
Most adults need 6-8 hours of sleep to feel rested, but research has shown, that many people should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Keep in mind that this is actual sleep – not resting in bed!
Our need for sleep is affected by our state of health, and our activity level. For instance many people will experience a highly increased level of tiredness when they start exercising excessively.
There are several impacts of sleep deprivation on the body:
- Mood changes and higher aggravation
- High blood pressure
- Poor concentration
- Weekend immunity
Many of us might think we have a pretty good understanding of our sleeping habits, but in fact the truth may surprise us!
If you are unsure of your sleeping habits try to keep a sleep journal – you might be surprised.
I suggest you keep track of the following:
- Hours of actual sleep
- Did you wake up during the night?
- How rested do you feel in the morning?
Track your sleep for a minimum of 1 week – I recommend at a month for a full overview.
Some activity trackers can also track your sleep!
Have you ever lied in bed unable to shut your brain down?
I have struggled really badly with insomnia in the past, almost bordering to anxiety attacks. I have laid in bed and felt my whole body tightening and my brain “screaming” at me, but without any particular thoughts! My body and brain was simply not at peace! It is one of the most terrible feelings I have ever experienced, which led me to research sleep and examine what might trigger insomnia.
The most common reasons for insomnia
This is one of the most important factor for our sleep. If we are stressed out our brain has a hard time of shutting down and getting into sleep – especially REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the most important kind of sleep, as this is the phase where our body’s cells renew themselves. I cannot tell you how to remove stress from your life – but keep in mind, that it is a really important factor in your sleep.
Diet & physical activity
As with most other aspects of our lives a healthy diet can have a large impact on our sleep as well. Avoid sugary snacks or drinks before bedtime for a better sleep. Some herbs such as chamomile and baldrian acts as natural sleep remedies.
Our bodies are made to move, so if we are inactive it will have a negative effect on our body. By working out in the morning or early afternoon we raise our body temperature and by nighttime our temperature has dropped into its normal range, which according to the sleepfoundation can trigger drowsiness. Be aware that working out in the evening can have the opposite effect.
Our thought and feeling have a huge impact on how well we sleep. If we for instance have had a difficult encounter at work it might still linger around in our brain without us realizing it. Our mind has to be at peace in order for us to sleep well. It is impossible to always be happy and feel at peace, but try to stay positive throughout you day and let go of negative thoughts, and feelings as much as possible.
10 tips for better sleep
Here are 10 tips you can try for better sleep:
1. Cut the caffeine 12 hours before you go to bed
The half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours for an average adult, so if you drink a cup of coffee at 10 the caffeine will be halted by 4 in the evening and 1/4th by 10 pm. No coffee after lunch is a good guideline ☕️
2. No electronics 1 hour before bed
Science shows, that blue light from screens like a TV or our tablets and phones suppresses the secretion of melatonin (the hormone that controls our circadian rhythm and makes us sleepy), which can have a huge impact on our sleep.
3. No sugary foods before bed
When we consume sugary snacks before bedtime we create a short but powerful raise in our energy level, which is opposite to what we aim for when we try to go to sleep.
4. No high intensity exercise before bed
Just like exercising can have a positive effect on our sleep it can also have the opposite effect if we practice high intensity workouts right before bedtime. Try to practice more low key levels of activity like light yoga or an evening walk instead.
Our brains can have a hard time letting go of our thoughts and all the impressions we have had throughout the day. By transferering our thoughts to paper we let our brain rest. See this post on how and why to keep a gratitude journal.
6. Go to bed early
Try to aim for lying in your bed 1 hour prior to when you actually want to fall a sleep. This way you will be more likely to actually sleep at the desired time and you have time to journal, or read a nice book.
Meditation can be a powerfull tool when it comes to creating drowsiness. It is a good supplement to journalling as it helps you let go of your thoughts and thereby empty your brain for any disturbances that can affect your sleep.
8. Wear a sleeping mask
I always wear a sleeping mask in summertime, when is is light out until midnight. Light has a huge impact on our melatonin levels and a sleeping mask can help create the sense of night time.
9. Check your room temperature
The ideal room temperature for sleeping is 16-17 degrees Celsius, which is a little lower than normal living room temperature. Try opening the windows 5 min. before bedtime if you live in a colder climate or turning on the AC if you live in a hot climate.
10. Create sleeping rituals
By creating a ritual you trigger your brain to feel sleepy when you perform the ritual. For instance I always start by removing makeup, brushing my teeth, floss, take my vitamins and supplements, write my gratitude journal, maybe read (if I feel like it), and use nail oil and hand cream. In this way my brain is triggered into sleep mode. This might seem excessive, and you don’t have to create an equally long ritual – do what fits your need.
Have you had trouble sleeping? How did you overcome it? Please let me know in the comments!