I started having issues going to sleep and staying asleep in 2011. At that time I was living on my own and working third shift at a nursing home. I was not only working but also going to college. Doing both full time made my schedule crazy. It made sense why I wouldn’t go to sleep or stay asleep but after I got on a regular work schedule my sleep still did not seem to get back ‘regulated‘. My primary doctor ended up referring me to a neurologist. The neurologist ended up diagnosing me with restless legs syndrome. He prescribed me medication to help me sleep. Over the next few years, I relied on that medication to sleep every night. I would every now and then change the dose so my body would not get used to it but then something weird happened. After years of taking this medication, I started to have negative side effects. I would stay asleep all night but then in the morning find it hard to wake up. I would feel very groggy from morning to almost lunch time. Throughout the day it would be hard for me to stay focused or process information. It felt like I never went to sleep at all.
I ended up seeing another doctor because I moved to Charlotte and this doctor gave me the idea of trying to do natural things to sleep since I have not done it in a long time. I thought about it and said, “Sure why not? I’m already tired all the time.” What ended up happening was amazing! I stopped taking this medication and was able to sleep regularly. I will share the steps I went through to regulate my sleep and hope it can help you.
*Below I will share my tips for sleeping better based on my own experience. Though I believe these tips are helpful, I am not a licensed doctor, these tips are to be done at your own discretion. *
Shut Off Electronics Earlier
What’s the big deal? Most of us do it every night. We get in the bed and pull out our phones….just a quick check. We end up scrolling through social media or play a game. We might turn on the TV for background noise or to catch an episode we missed. Maybe we will get on the laptop for a little bit to check work stuff…just a little bit though before bed. All of that is bad for our sleep. You should shut off your electronics at least an hour before bed so your body can unwind accordingly. The National Sleep Foundation found that electronics before bed prevent your body from releasing melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) because it stimulates your mind by use of the short-wavelength from the lights of these electronics. It also found that the more electronics someone uses at night the harder it is to fall asleep.
But Angel what will we do for an hour then?! Read, do a puzzle, write, talk to your significant other about your day, sit outside on your porch, etc. You are recommended to do anything that can be done under a dim light. Sometimes I like to just listen to relaxing music and color. I have heard of people who mediate or do deep breathing as well before bed. I used to hate doing this, it made me feel antsy, but the longer I did it the more I actually enjoyed this hour before bed. It is very relaxing to me. It almost feels like a form of self care.
Eat Dinner Earlier
When you eat dinner closer to bed time that means your body will be using more energy throughout the night to break it down. You’re more likely to wake up through out the night and also when it is time for you to wake up you’ll feel more sluggish and tired because of all the work your body did the night before to digest your food. Eating earlier will not only help you with sleep but can also help you lose weight. It makes sense because I know for me if I don’t eat much throughout the day, my dinner ends up being my heavier meal. I have tried to stop doing that and having lunch be my bigger meal and I have seen a difference.
Get A Humidifier
This really depends on your body and it’s needs. For me, a humidifier is great because I have a hard time breathing through my nose when I sleep. If I don’t have a humidifier, I have to turn on the fan for cool air.
According to Medical News Today, humidifiers can:
- reduce dryness and humidity in the air by adding more moisture. By adding moisture, it can help people with dry airways, frequent coughs, sinus headaches, asthma and allergies. All things that keep people up at night because of discomfort.
- bonus: reduce snoring. This is because when the air is more dry, airways tend to be less lubricated, resulting in a louder snore.
*Below I’ve listed the humidifier I have had the most luck with.*
I recommend working out at least 2-3 hours before bed. This helps you relieve stress and also helps your body get tired. I don’t recommend working out too close to bed time though because the endorphins (chemicals released when you work out) have kept me up at night. I usually get off work around 4:30 pm, so I like to go workout right after work or within an hour of leaving work. If I don’t feel like going to gym, I will just go for an hour walk or do a workout DVD. Do whatever works best for you but be sure to get some kind of workout in!
Over The Counter Sleep Aid
I try not to take anything to go to bed but if I feel like I have to or I won’t sleep I will do it. It is usually because I really messed up my sleep schedule during vacation. I have tried numerous sleep aids for over the counter but I have always been back to Benadyrl. I have even had a doctor recommend it to me as a natural sleeping aid along with Melatonin. Please note that these two medications don’t actually ‘put you to sleep‘. They both work to make it easier for you to fall asleep. Benadyrl makes you drowsy. Melatonin puts you a calm relaxing state. You should still follow the other tips. Below I’ve listed where I get both by the bulk for a cheaper price than other places I’ve been to.