By Beth Vought
With the pressures and stresses of our daily world, do you ever have trouble sleeping or falling asleep? This will give you some suggestions and helpful hints to alleviate that.
First off- avoid blue light, like that found in your cell phone, electronic reader, or computer, especially just before trying to sleep. Reading something before going to bed is helpful, but actual printed material is best. Not electronic books, magazines or social networks on your phone, laptop, tablet or computer. The blue light emitted from the electronic devices is harmful to the retina of the eye and believed to destroy Melatonin, which helps you sleep. So, break out a book or magazine-old school. They are still sold, take a trip to a local bookstore to find something that interests you. Don’t forget to turn off the electronics so they don’t disturb your sleep.
Take a break and eat dinner at the table by candlelight. Fluorescent bulbs and LED lights can also give off blue light like those from devices and televisions. Don’t forget a large meal takes three to four hours to digest, so be sure to give your system enough time to do its job before bedtime. Another hint: Caffeine affects different people different ways. If it affects you-avoid it at least six hours before bedtime.
Make sure your bed is a comfortable place to rest, have a good mattress-Medium Firm is recommended, and an orthopedic pillow is usually better than a feather or memory foam one. Be sure to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing that allows your body to breathe. For some people a weighted blanket is helpful, including children (please check with your pediatrician first). You may wish to adjust your sleep position. Studies have shown side sleeping gives a more high-quality sleep than any other position.
To keep your circadian clock (body clock) in rhythm, you’ll need to set yourself to a schedule, get to bed and rise for your day close to the same time-daily. Researchers are finding out that many daily functions are controlled by our internal clock. For optimal health, they say our bodies need to be on a schedule. We all know that we can’t live on a strict schedule, but it is beneficial to stay close to normal times when possible. Jet lag and shift work are examples of “off” times to our schedule. Daylight Savings is another. For slight changes, your body will adjust, but it takes time to adjust to more drastic ones. Try to keep things close to normal and it shouldn’t disrupt your sleep too badly.
Taking a warm shower or bath just before going to bed should relax and calm you to ease yourself into sleep. For the best sleep at night-avoid daytime naps. If you find yourself laying in bed looking at the ceiling, get up and try to do something, like a puzzle, to engage your brain and hands for only about ten minutes. You could also write in a journal for about 15 minutes. Go back through your day recalling the good or humorous happenings and write them down. Go back in six months to a year and you’ll get a charge out of reading the funny things that happened.
When you try going back to bed, if you still don’t go directly to sleep -don’t keep looking at the clock. Knowing you aren’t immediately falling into sleep only aggravates you further and doesn’t relax you to sleep. Picturing a favorite place, like a beach or waterfall should help you relax, counting backward from 100 is another method, or progressive relaxation. Start at one end of your body, either head or toes and progress to the other end by contracting and slowly relaxing each muscle group throughout your body. There are many sites that describe the stages of progressive relaxation. Here is one: https://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation.
Most health sources suggest you exercise three to four days a week at least three hours prior to sleep time. Morning is probably best. If you tend toward cool feet-wear socks to bed. Your core cools during sleep and extremities heat, so help it along by wearing socks. If you believe in reverse psychology, the next time you find yourself lying in bed wide awake- try forcing yourself to stay awake. Proponents say that is a sure way to fall asleep! Like music? Listen to slow rhythm music to slow you down and fall asleep. No luck yet? Get up and find a bowl your head will fit in to. Then fill it with cold water and immerse your face for about 30 seconds, which will start the Mammalian Dive Reflex. No, you aren’t drowning yourself- it will slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. Do you have a child’s bottle of bubbles hiding in a cupboard? Open that bottle and blow a few bubbles before getting ready for bed. The bubbles supposedly have a hypnotic effect on us. (Regression maybe?) Doing this will relax you and help you fall asleep. Then, there is the 4-7-8 breathing method. It is supposed to bring the body into extreme relaxation, allowing you to drift quickly into sleep and is supposed to have lots of health benefits. Here is a site that explains it thoroughly: https://www.healthline.com/health/4-7-8-breathing#1.
Here is a general guideline of sleep needed for different age groups. School-age children (ages 6-13) need 9-11 hours a day. Teenagers (ages 14-17) need about 8-10 hours each day. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours a night, although some may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours each day. You can find more updated recommendations here: www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1.
The National Sleep Foundation also recommends that you keep your room about 65º F for optimal sleeping conditions. A dark room is best and try an essential oil diffuser for scenting your room with either lavender or damask rose which promotes relaxation and sleep. Surely after all these suggestions you have found your way to sleeping soundly and well. If not- our last suggestion is to seek the help of a physician specializing in sleep problems. However, each person reacts differently, so adjust things to suit you and don’t give up hope. We all function better when well rested, so keep trying whetever can help you get that needed shut eye and Good Sleeping!
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As a longtime school secretary for Port Huron Schools, Beth Vought is no stranger to writing. Now retired, she’s excited to start this new creative writing endeavor. She has lived in the Blue Water area her entire life and has over thirty years’ experience sewing, crafting, along with other handy work. Beth has three grown children, two current fur babies and been married 35+ years. No grandchildren yet, but she did help deliver a litter of five puppies where she says, “Once was enough!”
Disclaimer: Blue Water Healthy Living is an online magazine located in Port Huron, Michigan. Our purpose is to promote healthy living by showcasing the Blue Water Area, its people, issues and surroundings. This online magazine is devoted to providing healthy living related stories, local happenings, and commentary. Often inspiring and uplifting, our stories come from our heart and soul to promote the enjoyment of a more fulfilling Blue Water Area lifestyle. The material on this web site is provided for informational and amusement purposes only and is not to be confused with any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of Blue Water Healthy Living.