Shut the light off, rest your head on the pillow, and settle into bed for a long winter’s night. You toss and turn and toss and turn. “Bring me a dream.” The alarm rings, you are exhausted and the day begins. Let’s learn how to sleep better with some sleep strategies and tips. How to get enough sleep.
How much sleep should you get?
I have had plenty of nights where the morning comes too quickly. Most adults should be getting more than 7 hours of sleep. The older you get the less sleep you need, which is something to be considered.
While you are growing your need for sleep is high.
Preschool age- 10-13 hours. I used to love these years. Bedtime for my kids was at 7 pm and they would get up at 7 a.m.
School age- 9-12 hours of sleep is needed. Many kids this age don’t get enough sleep.
Teens- need 8-10 hours of sleep. In a growth spurt, the need for more sleep may increase. If your teen sleeps 12 hours, he or she is in a growth spurt or not getting enough sleep during the week.
Adults- need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. This will vary based on the person. I have noticed as I get older my 9 hours is now turning into 7- 8 hours of sleep.
Sleep can affect all organs in the body. A lack of sleep can increase problems for heart disease, obesity, depression, dementia, brain fog, and can affect how you look.
When you sleep well you feel better, look better, and have energy and greater cognitive levels. While you are sleeping your organs, cells, muscles, and even your brain are all in repair and healing mode.
It’s time for your body to rest and while you are sleeping your body is in work mode restoring the cells. The wars of the immune system and cellular changes and repairs to the body are done in sleep mode. This is why getting enough sleep and good quality sleep is important.
Why can’t we sleep or have restless sleep?
The things that keep us from quality sleep are-
Stress– if you are in stress mode your mind won’t quit thinking and you won’t relax to fall asleep. Your adrenals and hormones could be off the chart which also makes it hard to sleep.
Lack of exercise– can lead to poor sleep. Our bodies were created to be active and move and when you sit all day you aren’t taking care of the muscles and heart. Getting out and moving the body and getting fresh air and sun can help you burn calories which will make you more tired at night.
Hormones– may cause a lack of sleep, especially for women. Monthly hormones may be at fault or even the stress hormones. If hormones are messed up in your body, your sleep may be too.
The wrong foods– you eat can lead to sleep deprivation. Sometimes eating before bed can lead to poor sleep because your body is so busy digesting food at night that it doesn’t get to go into repair mode. Spicy or fatty food as the last meal may cause you gas or stomach upset and sleep gets pushed aside. Caffeine may be keeping you awake.
Too much sleep- can cause you to lay there and think and falling asleep takes forever. Try to find your perfect hours for sleep and stay within those hours. Our bodies like schedules.
Medications– many medications can affect sleep, so monitor what you take and if you are sleeping or not. It may be you can try another medication if sleep is now a problem. Talk to your doctor about this.
Food and Sleep
The food you eat throughout the day can affect your sleep.
An overall healthy diet of fruits and veggies, protein, carbs, and limited processed, and sugary foods are sure to provide the nutrients your body needs for health and sleep. If you want detailed info on foods please see this link. The Link Between ZZZs & Eats – Today’s Dietitian Magazine (todaysdietitian.com)
Caffeine– It’s best to drink your caffeine in the morning hours. The later you drink a cup of coffee in the day the more it may affect your sleep. Of course, some people don’t have a problem with this, but the older you get the more this may affect you.
I remember drinking coffee at a small group on a Sunday night and wondering why I could never fall asleep until I realized the coffee at 7 pm was causing it. Now I cut off my coffee at 2 p.m.
Alcohol can make you sleepy, but the process in which your body is involved may disrupt your sleep too. The organs are all tied up in getting it through your body and your body doesn’t get to repair itself.
Magnesium which you can find in nuts and chocolate also affects sleep. You can also get Magnesium in the form of Epsom salt baths. The magnesium in the Epsom salt will soak into your skin. Magnesium plays an important role in the nervous system and you can stay asleep longer and get deeper sleep. Keep taking those baths before bed.
Drink Hot tea– decaffeinated or herbal. The hot tea tells your body as a habit- no more food and it’s time to settle into rest mode. I would advise drinking tea after dinner so you don’t have to get up and use the bathroom all night.
Hot Baths that are not too close to bedtime but in the evening are a great way to induce sleep. Relax in the bathtub or sauna, but give your body time to cool down. If you are too hot you will not sleep either.
Melatonin- has been researched and some can get a more restful sleep with use. Your cells go into a cytokine storm during sleep and cellular repair can happen during sleep. Talk to your Dr about melatonin if you think this is something you need to try for better sleep.
Tips to get Enough Sleep
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time. Yes, a Schedule.
- Keep your room dark. If there is too much light you may not be able to sleep. If you work the night shift invest in some room darkening blinds.
- Watch what you eat before bed. Don’t go to bed with too much to eat. Your body digests foods and metabolizes food while you sleep.
- Stay away from Caffeine 8 hours before your bedtime.
- An hour before bed- put away the electronics and bright lights to get your body ready for rest. Read a book, journal, and pray. The blue lights and bright lights affect your body more than you think.
- Limit any daytime naps if you can’t sleep because of them- or a minimum 20-minute nap.
- Get some physical activity or exercise in your day. The daylight outside helps your body realize its day and nighttime.
- Look at the light/sun as soon as it rises to get your eyes exposed to light in the new day. This sets your internal clock to a sleep cycle.
- Don’t worry- pray and journal and give your stress to God. If you wake up with worries- then you won’t sleep. Here is a link to mumbling God’s word.
- Keep your bedroom on the cool side, or turn the heat to a lower temp in your house so you can sleep. If it’s too hot you won’t sleep as well.
- Don’t drink too many liquids in the evening or you will be getting up all night.
- Wearing socks to bed if you are cold may be just what you need to warm up. As you get hot, take them off your feet and sleep soundly.
- Don’t exercise before bed and avoid alcohol- they will both affect your sleep.
Finally, I’m hoping you picked up one new tip to help you sleep. Sometimes it is a matter of discipline to start a new habit or shed an old habit. Sleeping better will help you with your overall health. How to get enough sleep.