Having trouble sleeping? You aren’t alone. Before we were told to shelter at home, about 35% of Canadians were having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This number is probably higher now. Not sleeping well makes it harder to do things while you’re awake. It is also linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, injuries, all-cause mortality, depression, irritability, and reduced well-being. Just in case you didn’t have enough to keep you up at night.
Luckily, there are a few of tried and tested (for about 5,000 years – they’re Ayurvedic) ways to get your 40 winks in, so you can generally feel much better. Try them individually, as a pair, or all together, depending on what works for you right now – and remember, you can always start over.
DURING THE DAY
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
A caffeine boost can be helpful in the morning, but regular consumption blocks sleep inducing brain chemicals, and increases adrenaline levels. While helpful when you need to power through the morning, this can make it difficult to get to sleep when you want to so try switching to an herbal tea (try one of these immune boosting options) if you want something warm, or naturally flavoured water as a cooler choice.
2. Exercise daily but not too late in the day.
Movement during the day or early evening, including your favourite Virtual Studio [INSERT VIRTUAL STUDIO LINK] classes, are a great way to boost your endorphin levels. They are critical to ensuring you stay healthy, but that rush can make it hard to fall asleep. If you can, try limiting your more intense exercise sessions to earlier in the day. If a pre-bed movement session is the only thing that works for your schedule, consider a more relaxed practice that is gentle on your nervous system.
3. Meditate at the end of your day.
Your meditation does not have to be long. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position. And you don’t have to chant Om. So long as you are connected to your body, breath and mind in the present moment, you are meditating. Doing so at the end of your day helps calm both the body and the mind, so you can start to wind down and prepare for rest. Not sure how to start meditating? Try this box breathing technique used by Navy Seals or this relaxing yoga nidra option.
IN THE EVENING
- Eat a lighter dinner and avoid snacking in the evening.
Some studies suggest that falling asleep soon after eating causes nightmares. While that might not be true, it can be difficult to find a comfortable position, and if you do start to doze it might be hard to stay asleep. If you absolutely need something before bed time, try one of these milk options, using the milk that works for you. Pro Tip: Take it with a magnesium supplement to minimize muscle soreness and help you sleep more soundly.
2. Stick to a sleep schedule and ritual.
While it is extra challenging to stick to a schedule when you don’t remember what day it is, going to bed at a regular time will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. And if bed time isn’t something you look forward to, consider building a ritual to make it something you can start to look forward to.
- Avoid artificial bright light and blue-light prior to sleep.
Our bodies have evolved to respond to light, so limiting how much of it you’re exposed to right before you fall asleep can be quite helpful. You might set aside your screens and give your eyes a break, or switch to blue light blocking glasses to help you slide into slumberland.
2. Sleep in a dark room.
It seems silly to have to say this, but our bodies find it much harder to sleep when exposed to light. If you don’t have access to a dark space, you might try an eye mask that covers your browbone and cheek bones, like this one, to keep the pressure off your eyes. Bonus tip: If the dark makes you restless, try cocooning under a weighted blanket.
Sweet Dreams, Vixens!