Inside: 6 surprising reasons you aren’t getting deep sleep and the tips for good sleep you need to take back your night tonight.
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After years of being a single mother to young children, I trained myself to sleep with one open which in turn has left me as the world’s lightest sleeper.
When my children became teenagers and there was no longer any danger of them crying out for me during the middle of the night, I’d do just about anything to get a full nights sleep again.
However, I found my body, and perhaps my mind needed to relearn how.
6 Tips for Good Sleep: Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Below is a list of common things people do wrong when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. The good news is all these tips are easy to start doing tonight.
1. You don’t have complete darkness at night.
Whether you have a night light or keep the hall light or bathroom light on with the door cracked, any light disrupts your body’s ability to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone we all need to promote sleep.
If you have a street light outside of your bedroom window, consider blackout shades to block light out completely.
I go so far as to ensure the TV is turned off, so the little red light isn’t blinking on the other side of the room.
2. Your body temperature is too warm
Our body temperature decreases when we enter deep sleep. However, to stay in a deep sleep, our environment needs to support a cool, sleeping state.
Your body temperature rises when it’s ready to wake up in the morning. If your sleeping temperature is too warm, it will signal to your body its time to wake up.
For improved sleep, try these things:
- Turn down your thermostat at night. It’s recommended to keep your thermostat in the mid-60s for ideal sleeping temperature. I’d freeze if my house were that cold. I’ve found great success by turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees each night, then turning it back up in the morning. A programmable thermostat is also an excellent idea.
- Run your ceiling fan at night if you have one directly above your bed. Ceiling fans are an excellent option if you don’t want to affect the temperature of the rest of the house.
- Wear cotton, breathable pajamas at night. Heavier PJs may feel cozy when you’re heading to bed but the dense fabric won’t allow your skin to breathe and will make your body temp rise.
- Lightweight sheets and comforters even in the winter are a must.
- Taking a bath or shower before bed helps to regulate your body temperature.
3. Noise is Stirring Your Sleep Cycle
Depending which sleep cycle you’re in, everyday sounds we don’t even notice during the day, such as our heater turning off and on, a dog barking, cars outside, are magnified during the silence of the night and can awaken us or slightly alter our sleep pattern.
Although there are a few things we can do about the environmental noises we hear, we can use sound to our advantage.
For some, merely running your ceiling fan at night or wearing regular earplugs will block out enough noises. For the rest of us, there are other options.
A sleep machine can block out most noises.
After time, sleep machines can also signal to the brain its time for sleep.
I’ve had the sleep machine below for six years. It’s the most sturdy sleep machine I’ve ever had. It’s compact enough you can take it with you when you travel. My daughter has one now too.
White Noise Apps
The app “White Noise” or “White Noise – Lite” is the best white noise app I’ve found. The app contains lots of different noises or melodies to play while sleeping. I prefer “brown noise” the best.
In the past, I’ve tried these headphones made for sleeping, but I found the headband challenging to keep over my ears. And as much as I want to block out all the noise so I can sleep well, I also want to be able to hear something in case of an emergency.
4. You’re using the wrong pillow
How many times have been to a hotel and fell in love with their pillows? Exclaiming you had the best sleep ever.
Or the exact opposite. You had to stack three pillows and arrange them in a pyramid shape, and all night they fell apart, and you woke up with a stiff neck and maybe 3 hours of sleep all thanks to the feather pillows?
It should be no secret then pillows can make or break your sleep.
As one who suffers from migraines, my pillow needs are specific: semi-firm, with cooling technology for side and back sleepers.
While you may have more relaxed guidelines, you should still replace your pillow every 18 months and buy one for the way you sleep: back, side or tummy sleeper.
If you’re unsure how you sleep, notice what position you wake up in the morning. If you have any aches or pains, then see which pillows can accommodate you there as well.
5. When Did You Last Eat?
A heavy protein leaden meal directly before bed can cause sleep issues. Your body has work to do now to break down all the protein yet you’re trying to sleep for the next 8 hours.
Instead, opt for a light carb snack or a handful of nuts if you need a late night snack.
On the opposite end, if you had an early dinner and its been six hours since you last ate and you’re trying to sleep, you may wake up hungry or find yourself with a headache come morning.
A small snack with some fat such as nuts or a cheese stick should help carry you through.
6. How You Spent Your Last Hour Before Bed
Just as children thrive with a nightly routine, setting our bodies and mind up to recognize that’s its time for bed can do wonders for your sleep.
- Use the last hour before sleep to turn off the TV and electronics, including your phone and iPad or computer.
- Read a paper book, preferably a fiction book. Non-fiction tends to wake up our minds.
- Lay aside stressful situations or conversation if possible and plan to deal with them tomorrow. If you can’t get them out of your mind, brain-dump everything into a journal.
- Spend time praying with your children, enjoying time with them without the distractions of devices.
- This last hour make sure you aren’t drinking any alcohol and limit all liquids, so you aren’t up throughout the night.
- Prepare anything soothing your body associates with sleep. For me, I enjoy smelling my favorite relaxing essential oils from my diffuser to relax my body and prepare my mind for bed.
- The hour window before bed is a great time to take a bath. Add Epsom salts to calm your body.
Changing Sleep Needs
Our sleep needs will change as we age. Add on hormonal changes, stress, and medication, and we continuously have to adjust our sleep cycles and comforts. Changing sleep needs are especially true of women.
But also true is nothing makes us feel quite as good as a night that ends before we even knew it began. We may not want to wake up, but we sure are grateful we slept through the night. Trying a few of these tips for good sleep tonight will certainly get you on your way.