I have struggled with insomnia my entire life. As a kid I was generally the first one up in the mornings. As a college student, I’d get up in the middle of the night to watch old movies. The difference was back then it didn’t make me tired.
As a newlywed, I’d often wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and spend an hour or so knitting before I was able to get back to sleep. For a while I seemed to sleep okay, and then there was perimenopause and menopause — maybe you can relate? I rarely have problems falling asleep, but I was still often waking up an hour or more before I actually wanted to get up. Only now, in my 50s, it makes me tired.
Stop liquids after dinner
I often have trouble getting back to sleep if I have to get up and use the bathroom. Yes, it’s true that as we age, there are often more trips during the night.
One simple way to minimize those bathroom trips is to have a cut off time for drinking liquids. Since I’m an early to bed, early to rise person, for me, that’s after dinner. Your time might be different, but I’d suggest stopping all liquids (with one exception below) at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed.
The exception: tart cherry juice
I started drinking a small amount of tart cherry juice about an hour before bed a few months ago. It’s the gift that keeps giving: not only can it help you fall asleep, it can also help with inflammation and therefore boost recovery for runners. And unlike beet juice (also helps with inflammation and recovery), I like the taste.
When I remember, I also have a little in the morning, too. I use it to take my multivitamins. See this article here for the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice.
Write out — yes, by hand — a to-do list right before bed
I know: writing is so old school. It’s also very effective in helping you to remember things. Which is why I suggest actually writing out a to-do list. And doing it before you go to bed helps you calm your mind — you’re not laying in bed trying to remember all the things you have to do tomorrow.
You can, of course, also use an app. If you do, I suggest doing so in addition to writing it out.
Write out — again, by hand — 3 things you’re grateful for
It’s way too easy to focus on the negative. The news almost always negative. No matter how bad your life seems, no no matter how bad the news seems, there is always something to be grateful for. Writing it down helps you to focus on the things that are going right in your life.
Think there’s nothing going right in your life? Start with the basics:
- I’m grateful I can breathe on my own
- I’m grateful for my warm (or cool, depending on where you live) home
- I’m grateful for my health
- I’m grateful for my family
- I’m grateful for my friends
- I’m grateful for my furkids
- I’m grateful for sunshine
- I’m grateful for healthy food to eat
- I’m grateful for my ability to run, walk, talk, see, etc.
- I’m grateful for my comfortable bed
There ya go — if you’re stumped for anything to be grateful for in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something on the list above.
For God’s sake, get off the electronics already!
It may be somewhat unfair for me to say this: I don’t work outside the home. I’m not super attached to electronics — ask my friends. Still, it’s so tempting to check facebook one more time, email one more time, and before you know it you’re up way past your bedtime.
Then there’s the fact that you often get caught up with stuff online that riles you up. Not a good recipe for good sleep.
That’s not the real problem, though — that’s the blue light that electronics emit (see here for more information on blue light). If you sleep like a baby, no worries. But if you’re struggling with sleep, keep the phone out of your bedroom. And the tablet, computer, and television. At the very least, keep it on do not disturb.
Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:
Do you more hacks for better sleep?
Do you have a sleep routine?
Is your phone always by your side?