I wanted to start a blog post about National Sleep Awareness Week in hopes of getting you adults out there better sleep! Now, if you cannot sleep because your child is not sleeping, make sure you contact me for a free 15 minute phone chat so we can see if working together to get your child’s sleep on track may be of help. But, if your child is sleeping okay and you are not, or even if your child does disturb your sleep sometimes, but other times you just have trouble sleeping, keep reading!
When to see a doctor
I would say if you are having general problems sleeping, and you follow good sleep hygiene then definitely bring it up at your next appointment. You may want to keep a sleep diary in the days leading up to when you see your doctor. (Here is a link to one on the National Sleep Foundation’s website – Sleep Diary) If you snore, definitely see a doctor about this. Snoring can be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, or it could be something simpler, like from allergies. Regardless, you are probably not sleeping your best (or your partner is probably not sleeping their best!!) if you snore.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Here are some steps to take for good sleep hygiene:
- Go to bed and wake up the same time (within an hour) from day to day. This gets your body on a consistent schedule. Keep meals around the same time too.
- Dim lights and turn off electronics about an hour before bedtime. Darkness signals your body that it is time for sleep and it begins producing melatonin, a calming hormone. The light from electronics can actually stop your body from producing this hormone. There are covers you can get for your electronics to block the blue light if you really need them before bed
- Have a calm bedtime routine. No, bedtime routines are not just for children! Having your own calm routine gives your body the chance to get ready for sleep.
- Create an ideal sleeping environment. (More on that below)
- Exercise during the day. Exercise is best done earlier in the day, not right before bed.
- Do not eat certain foods and drinks before bed. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before going to bed. You also do not want to eat any big meals before bed as your body may be busy digesting and sleep may not be as restorative. There are some good foods that you can have small portions of at bedtime though. That glass of warm milk that people used to recommend? It’s not a bad idea since milk contains tryptophan, which can help you sleep. Click Here are some more foods to eat for a good night’s sleep.
- Keep pen and paper next to your bed. This is something that really helps me. I seem to think of all sorts of things right before I fall asleep at night and having somewhere to write them down helps me let them go and be able to fall asleep.
An Ideal Sleeping Environment
There are several different things that go into an ideal sleeping environment. I like to talk about the temperature, the light, the noise and the smell in the room.
- Temperature – Ideal sleeping temperature varies a bit from expert to expert, but in general, 65 – 72 degrees is a good range to go with. The thing to keep in mind is that a cooler temperature is better. Our internal temperature decreases as we sleep and if our room is too hot, our body has to work harder to decrease our internal temperature, making our sleep not as restorative.
- Lighting - Darkness is best to sleep in. If you like a nightlight, try to get the dimmest one you can.
- Noise – If outside noises bother your sleep, you may want to consider a white noise machine to drown out those noises. A white noise machine is also helpful in giving your brain something to concentrate on instead of “to do lists” in your head and this may help you fall asleep. Some people who are very sensitive to outside noises may do better wearing ear plugs.
- Smell - Make sure there are no strong odors in your room as this can also affect your sleep. Some people find essential oils helpful in sleeping. Strong chemical odors can also indicate off-gassing of something which can affect your health.
What helps you fall asleep at night? And did you know it should take around 10 – 20 minutes to fall asleep? If you are asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, you are too tired!