Sleep Habits

Ways to Improve Your Sleep

We all know how important sleep is for our body and mind.
Yet so many of us struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. Below are a list of tips to help you out:

Establish a bedtime routine

Attempt to go to bed at the same time each night and try to wake up at the same time as much as possible. Try to avoid reading or watching tv in bed. You want to train your mind into thinking that the bed is a place for sleep.

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon

Ideally avoid ALL caffeine after 3 PM. Caffeine hides in chocolate and some beverages as well as in the obvious (coffee) so be sure to watch what you’re eating and drinking late in the day.

Avoid excessive alcohol

Drinking disrupts sleep and minimize all fluid intake 1-2 hours before bed to help prevent frequent trips to the bathroom at night.

exercise during the day

This will help you sleep and getting outside to get some sunshine is helpful as well. This sunlight resets your circadian rhythm which sometimes can get disrupted.

resist the urge to nap

If you are feeling tired the next day due to lack of adequate sleep, resist the urge to nap. If naps are greater than 30 minutes, they often disrupt sleep. There are times when a nap is necessary so use your best judgement but try not to make it a habit.

Pay attention to hunger cues

Eat a small meal that includes protein if you are feeling hungry before retiring for the night. Keep the meal that you choose to something light to avoid getting an upset stomach.

  • TRYPTOPHAN – is a natural sleep enhancer found in certain foods such as shrimp, tuna, cod and halibut.
  • MELATONIN – is often used to encourage sleep but check with your doctor before starting it as it has been known to cause side effects such as headaches and depression in some people.
  • MAGNESIUM – is an important mineral that helps the body make serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin, the brain chemical that sets your body clock. Take 200 to 300 mg of magnesium citrate daily with dinner. Have your magnesium levels checked should you feel that you are very low.

Try a relaxing activity

If you do wake up in the middle of the night, try not to fret too much and get overly anxious about it. This will make it harder to go back to sleep. It is best to get out of your bed and do something relaxing such as reading a book or practicing some meditation or doing an activity that does not involves electronics such as knitting or journaling. Spend about 10 minutes on this activity and take a few yawns. Forcing a yawn and telling yourself how tired you are is a trick to do when you wake up in the middle of the night during that short period of trying to return to sleep. Then picture yourself asleep and return to the bed.

Check your thermostat

Make sure your room isn’t too hot or cold. A temperature of about 70 degrees is usually the ideal temperature.

Remove Light Sources

Make sure your room doesn’t have any sources of light that could wake you up – even the light from an alarm clock could disrupt you so think about turning the clock around so the light isn't facing you or darkening the room in any way that you can (eye mask, room darkening shades, etc.)

About the Author

Cynthia Conigliaro
Cynthia Conigliaro is the Sales and Marketing Director for Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm focused on employee emotional wellbeing and organizational culture analysis.  For almost five years she has worked alongside the owner of OWLS to design and implement mental health related employee wellness trainings and workshops for organizations across the United States.
For almost 15 years she has had her own health and wellness coaching business.  Cynthia works with individuals and groups and runs virtual and in person workshops for employees on a variety of health and wellness topics relating to both physical and mental health. She is an Infinite Possibilities Certified Trainer and a Resilience and Life Coach. She has been a volunteer with the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) for the past 4 years where she sits on both the Programs Committee and the Marketing Committee. Cynthia has her Master of Social Work and her Master of Business Administration from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Spanish from College of the Holy Cross.
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