sleepA good bed is important but alone it cannot guarantee sound, refreshing sleep. It sometimes takes more. Below are some suggestions I’ve gleaned from my reading and experience. Consider implementing some of these ideas if you still have a difficult time sleeping – even with a good bed.

  • Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars – and any processed foods.
  • Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as possible if you get up in the middle of the night. Try my trick of keeping one eye closed when you need to get up during the night. I have no proof that this always works but it seems helpful to me.
  • Invest in a sleep mask.
  • No TV right before bed. It is too stimulating right before trying to fall asleep. I’ve found that the news programs are particularly unsettling – not good when I’m trying to settle in for the night.
  • Wear socks to bed. I read about this and tried it. I now find that I look forward to wearing socks to bed. Slippers are good at protecting the feet from cold floors, but what protects bare feet from the inside of cold slippers. Wear the socks and use the slippers – that’s not so odd is it?
  • Read something spiritual or religious. This will help to relax. Don’t read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, as this may have the opposite effect. I’m not suggesting that spiritual reading puts people to sleep. However, it is far more relaxing than the latest thriller.
  • Avoid using loud alarm clocks. The constant ticking of some clocks may lull you to sleep but I think that silence is best – just like darkness.
  • Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed.
  • Melatonin and its precursors. Many people swear by melatonin and others swear at it. I think melatonin has a place, particularly as we get older. I urge caution and moderation. Use small amounts – 1mg – and only use it 2 to 3 times a week.
  • L-Tryptophan. This is an essential amino acid and found in many protein products – turkey is a good example. It had been available over-the-counter until a few years ago. It seems that some shipments from Japan had been contaminated with a harmful chemical. Instead of banning the contaminant, our government banned the L-Tryptophan. It IS NOT a drug. It’s safe and free of contaminants.
  • Get to bed early. I recall how difficult it was to fall asleep after I had stayed up too late as a child. My mother used to say, “I was too tired to get to sleep.” That sounds odd but there seems to be a lot of truth in it.
  • Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). This one is controversial because not everyone can agree that EMFs are harmful. Regardless, I purchased an inexpensive Gauss meter and tested our room. The electric blanket made the device chirp. We turned off the blanket and still got a reading. Unplugging it stopped the chirping. I think I sleep better without being bathed in EMFs for 8 hours.
  • We replaced the electric blanket with a hot water bottle. It’s a great alternative.
  • Alarm clocks and other electrical devices: If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from the bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. EMFs fall off over distances – 3 feet is safe.
  • Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees. Night sweats aren’t reserved just for hormone imbalances. If it is too warm in the bedroom, sleeping is impaired. Keep it cool and use blankets.
  • Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-Tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.
  • Also eat a small piece of fruit with the protein. This can help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.
  • Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short lived and people will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.
  • Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating sleep.
  • Remove the clock from view. It will only add to your worry when constantly staring at it… 2 AM…3 AM… 4:30 AM…
  • Keep Your Bed For Sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and to think of the bed as a place to sleep.
  • If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician. The hormonal changes at this time may cause problems if not properly addressed.