Trouble Sleeping? How to Switch Off Before Bed

December 30, 2014
by Jennifer Hall Taylor for Thrive Market
Trouble Sleeping? How to Switch Off Before Bed

Getting enough sleep is one of the simplest and most important things you can do for your health.

Our bodies need sleep to recharge mentally and physically for the next day. While this is a no-brainer for most of us, actually getting a good night's sleep can sometimes be a challenge.

We field questions all the time from Thrivers who are having restless nights. In this installment, we asked our resident Health Coach, Jennifer Hall Taylor from Buckwheat to Butter to fill us in on a quick tip to get a more peaceful nights sleep.

I find it hard to switch off at night before bed and it takes me ages to fall asleep even though I feel so tired. How can I get a better night's rest?

Often, the most common culprit for a wired mind before bed these days is technology.  Are you watching TV, texting, or looking at your computer screen before bed? If the answer is yes, that’s the first place to start. Looking at a screen — whether it's a TV, a backlit e-reader, a phone or a computer — can greatly interfere with sleep and the brain’s ability to quiet itself before bed. One Harvard study suggested that the blue light emitted by LED lights in screens interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep, so even if you feel drowsy while watching a movie on your laptop in bed, you find it hard to fall asleep afterward or find that your sleep is less restful than you want it to be. Texting or checking your email before bed can have a similarly disturbing effect on sleep patterns, often because it gets your brain stimulated, thinking about the things you have to do tomorrow or the meeting you have to prepare for. Instead of allowing for the day to come to a close, you fall asleep already anxious about what is to come. Here are a few ideas for how to improve your sleep.

  • Put away all your screens at least an hour before bed
  • Avoid sugar and caffeine in the evening which will only serve to heighten any existing feelings of anxiety.
  • Drink a cup of relaxing herbal tea, like chamomile or lavender, half an hour before bed.
  • Instead of making a mental to-do list before bed, write down three things that went really well today and why they happened. You may be surprised to see that you accomplished more than you thought you did. Leave the to-do list for the morning.
  • Breathe! Breathing is the key to relaxation. One easy exercise for relaxation and insomnia is to count your breaths. Count silently to three on your inhale and six on your exhale. Extending your exhale helps to lower the heart rate and relax the mind and body. Keep counting your inhales and exhales until you fall asleep.
  • Download a free app like “Relax Melodies,” which has different nature sounds to help you fall and stay asleep, and play it softly when you go to bed. Just make sure you aren’t playing it from a device with a backlit screen close by.

Want more tips? Check out these all natural remedies for catching more z's and waking up with more energy!

A health coach is a wellness professional and mentor who provides resources and support to people looking to make and sustain healthy choices to their diets and lifestyles. Our resident holistic health coach, Jennifer Hall Taylor of Buckwheat To Butter, draws from a wide range of dietary, exercise and mindfulness theories in her practice, to encourage each person to find his or her unique path to optimal health. We've asked Jennifer to answer our burning health-related questions from readers like you.

Photo credit: Parachute Home

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