Go to Sleeeeeeep……
One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to get a good night sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is usually the first thing we neglect in our busy lives. While stress and anxiety seem like easy insomnia (chronic poor sleep) triggers many women do not realize how hormonal fluctuations throughout our lives can lead to significantly impaired sleep. Pregnancy, PMS & PMDD, and Menopause all create biological changes through our body that increases the chances of body aches, changes in body temperature, emotional ups-and-downs, increased anxiety and for some, symptoms of depression.
But, when it comes to sleep there are many non-medication related life changes that we can make help combat poor and unrestful sleep regardless of its cause.
1. Wake Up At The Same Time Every Day – Many of us love the idea of “sleeping in” on the weekend or when our schedule allows. Unfortunately, this habit actually can disrupt your sleep cycle making it harder to fall asleep on other nights.
2. No Napping – Unless you are pregnant, have a new born, or are severely immunocompromised, try not to nap during the day. Just like with #1 when we try to “catch up” on sleep during the day we can make it more difficult to get deep restful sleep when we want to.
3. Monitor Your Caffeine Intake – It’s true many of us just can’t start our day with out that first cup of coffee and that’s fine. However excessive caffeine consumption during the day or drinking caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening can make it harder to sleep. Spotting caffeine can be tricky too as it’s in more that just coffee and teas. All “energy drinks” and even some sports drinks can have significantly levels of caffeine or other stimulant types substances so check your labels.
4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – Unless you have been specifically told not to by your healthcare provider, exercise is one of the most efficient ways to improve your sleep. Even outside of it’s physical benefits, daily exercise (30 mins or more) can help decrease feelings of stress, anxiety and helplessness. Just be careful exercising too close to bedtime as this could make you feel too energized to sleep. On the other hand some people do beast when they tire themselves out right before bed. It’s ok to try different routines to see what works best for you.
5. Eat A Balanced Diet – Watching what you eat and making sure your providing your body with healthy nutrients is important to help ward off day time fatigue. A night time snack is ok too, just make sure it’s small as feeling too full may cause feelings of discomfort, not too spicy as this can lead to heartburn, or too much liquid which can result in unwanted midnight bathroom trips.
6. STOP SMOKING – This goes for vaping, nicotine gum, patches and anything else. The chemicals commonly found in cigarettes, and in lesser amounts in stop-smoking aids change the way your body process other substances including medications. This means you may be more likely to have unpleasant medication side effects which can keep you awake.
7. STOP Drinking Alcohol – Yes, drinking alcohol may make you feel tired, but the quality of sleep you get when it’s caused by alcohol is not truly restful and can lead to other significant health issues.
8. Your Sanctuary – Make your bedroom a place you can’t wait to be. Get your body used to the idea that your room is for sleep. Keep it dark, cool and quiet. If you enjoy aromatherapy have a diffuser going with a relaxing scent. If you can't sleep in complete quite consider a playlist of nature sounds or white noise. Remember, your bed is not the place to be finishing work, reading, watching TV, or obsessively checking your phone. Except for sex, set the rule that the bed is only for sleeping. All other activities should be done outside of the bedroom so when you do go to bed your body is conditioned for sleep.
9. Don’t Stare At The Ceiling – As with #7 your bed is only for sleeping and sex. If its been more than 30 mins of laying in bed and you’re awake, get up. Go sit in another room, make a short walk around the house, read a boring book by low soft light (not blue or florescent light) and when you feel sleepy again return to bed.
If you continue to have sleep issues or your sleep is accompanied by intense feelings of anxiety, depression or other physical issues like chronic pain, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider. There are other treatments that may be available for you.