I see it time and time again: a client seeks help for insomnia, and they want to know how to get to sleep faster. Of course, there can be a multitude of culprits such as mineral deficiencies, hormone imbalances, musculoskeletal disorders, anxiety, depression, and gut issues, among others. A good practitioner will work these up and partner with you to find the root cause.
However, in the meantime, it can be helpful to do a check-up on one’s sleep hygiene. By sleep hygiene, I don’t mean cleanliness. “Sleep hygiene” basically means the recommended behavioral and environmental practice to promote better quality sleep; how to sleep better at night naturally.
The Cleveland Clinic published a great list of things to help optimize sleep if you or your loved ones are suffering from sleep issues.
- Create an optimal sleep environment by making sure that your bedroom is comfortable, cool, quiet, and dark. If noise keeps you awake, try using background sounds like “white noise” or earplugs. If light interferes with your sleep, try a sleep mask or blackout curtains.
- Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep and intimate relations. Do not watch television, eat, work, or use computers in your bedroom.
- Try to clear your mind before bedtime by writing things down or making a to-do list earlier in the evening. This is helpful if you tend to worry and overthink in bed at night.
- Establish a regular bedtime and a relaxing routine each night by taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or reading. Try relaxation exercises such as meditation. Wake up at the same time each morning, including days off and vacations.
- Stop clock watching. Turn the clock around and use only the alarm for waking up. Leave your bedroom if you can not fall asleep in 20 minutes.
- Read or engage in a relaxing activity in another room; be sure to avoid bright lights if you do this!
- Avoid stimulants (coffee, certain teas, cocoa, and chocolate) and heavy meals for at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco for at least 4 hours before bedtime and during the night.
- Exercise regularly, but not within 4 hours of bedtime if you have trouble sleeping.
If you have aced these items above and are still having sleep issues, there is a reason. Please see a practitioner skilled in finding the root cause. You shouldn’t need to take pharmaceutical medication for the rest of your life to sleep well.