This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please seek appropriate advice from your health care provider.
Sleep tends to be a bugaboo for many people.
If you’re one of those people who has issues falling asleep or staying asleep, or getting enough sleep, read on.
The first step toward improving sleep is to correct your sleep hygiene.
Many of us have really bad sleep and bedtime habits. The rules we used when we had children, such as having a bedtime routine, work well for adults, too.
Here are some more sleep hygiene tips that originated with Dr Adam Moscovitz here in Calgary. I have modified a few of them and added a couple to the list.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Use your bedroom primarily for sex and sleep and not as an all-purpose activity area.
- Your bed should be comfortable, large enough, in a quiet, dark room and at the right temperature. You may want to use a fan, area heater, bed warmer, ear plugs, or sleep mask to get the right setting for sleep.
- Be consistent about taking naps. Take one regularly or not at all.
- Avoid stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine, in all forms. Stimulants late in the day rev the adrenal glands and can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Don’t use alcohol or street drugs as sedatives. While they might help you fall asleep initially, they lead to sleep disruption and deprive you of deep sleep, sometimes for years after stopping heavy use.
- Exercise regularly in the morning or early afternoon, but do not engage in strenuous activity late in the evening. A relaxing, mild physical activity might be helpful close to bedtime.
- Avoid screen time within two hours of going to bed. The blue light emitted by screens interferes with the conversion of serotonin to melatonin. Melatonin is required for sleep.
- Start dimming room lights two hours before going to bed as this triggers the process of converting serotonin to melatonin.
- If you feel hungry in the evening, have a light snack that includes a light protein. Heavy meals close to bedtime can result in discomfort and bizarre dreams.
- Schedule a relaxing period before going to sleep to separate your body and mind from the day’s hassles.
- Keep a regular schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Learn to relax in bed until you fall asleep. This works well for children and it works well for adults, too.
- Above all, don’t try too hard. If you can’t fall asleep, just lie in bed focusing on relaxing your body and clearing your mind. There is some rejuvenation in resting.Aside from these tips, some supplements that may help you to sleep include:
Supplements for Better Sleep
Vitamin B6 is also known as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride. This vitamin is a precursor to serotonin.
Many years ago, after one of our babies was born, she wasn’t sleeping well at all. She was up to nurse every hour on the hour round the clock. I was bagged. My medical doctor recommended that I take 500 mg of B6 every day. I added a B-complex to it. The first night we did this, I woke up at the four-hour mark. Baby was still asleep, but I was so tired I remember thinking (and this probably means I got nominated for ‘Bad Mother Of The Year’) “If she’s dead, I’ll find out in the morning.” She slept another two hours before waking up. Apparently, we both needed it!
Note: I’m not recommending you should try 500 mg of B6 - only sharing what my doctor recommended for me.
Nervine Herbal Blend
Especially if I’m feeling a little wound up, or if my mind isn’t settling within 30 minutes of turning off the light, I reach for a few capsules of a blend that has herbs such as chamomile, passionflower, marshmallow root, and hops.
According to www.sleepfoundation.org, magnesium can help older people who have sleep issues to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The study used 500 mg of magnesium. Be aware that magnesium oxide can create diarrhoea. To avoid that, look for a supplement that has a variety of magnesium forms such as citrate, malate, orotate, and/or bisglycinate.
If you would like links to the specific products I use and recommend, send me an email and let me know what you're looking for.