Insomnia no more…my top sleeping tips

Insomnia sucks. Sleeping well is amazing. There is no in between! Some people are naturally good sleepers, like my mom and sister, they can just fall asleep at the drop of a hat no matter what. Lucky them, but for the rest of us sometimes it takes a little more to engineer the perfects nights sleep. I know some people have trouble falling asleep and some people have trouble staying asleep, hopefully this article will help you out in someway. You’ll notice that a lot of these tips coincide with my last article on How I Handle Stress. I’ve ordered them from simplest to the most complex to the most ridiculous. Enjoy!

1. Go to bed happy….it’s so simple and yet so effective. My body just doesn’t want to shut down when I’m in a bad mood. It’s all about creating the proper environment for your nervous system to shut down and relax. It can’t do that when you’re stressed or upset.

2. Watch something funny before bed…..laughter is truly the greatest medicine. This harkens back to creating the right mental attitude for a good nights sleep. Avoid over-stimulating things like the news, horror films, action, etc. Save it for another time and focus on winding down.

3. Write your grateful log….I wrote about this in How I Handle Stress and a lot of people liked the idea. In a notebook by your bed, write down a list of things you’re grateful for in your life. This will unload the mental burdens of the day from your mind and help you wind down.

4. Remove all electronics from your room….that means your phone, computer, IPAD, whatever. Not only does the electricity interfere with your brain waves, all of those devices are sources of information and stimulation. In order to sleep well your central nervous system needs to wind down, and having your phone by your bed is a subconscious way of telling it that more information is coming your way. Don’t do it. If you need the alarm on your phone, put it in your closet, or I turn it on silent and put in the kitchen so the alarms loud enough when it goes off. *And a quick note from people who say “what if my friend needs me?” or “what if there’s an emergency?’ I hear you, but if you’re already having trouble sleeping than it’s time to focus on YOU not on someone else. Sorry.

5. Remove all light and stay cool….similar concept to tip #4, but this also includes curtains or the blinds. Once your body is exposed to some form of light, it’s going to disrupt your calming hormones because it thinks it’s time to get up. Believe it or not, our body’s haven’t changed much in 10,000 years and we used to go to bed as the sun set and wake up when it rises. Also, trying to sleep when you’re hot or sweating is awful. Why would anyone want that? I like to be cool and a little cold, it just feels nice.

6. Read for pleasure…similar to watching something funny, it will help you calm down. Nothing over stimulating.

7. Stretch/meditate….I’ve put these together because they both work the same for me. They’re relaxing and calming. Nothing crazy, don’t over exert yourself. And with the meditating, try taking 10-20 deep breaths, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Stretch 30 minutes before you get into bed, and try the meditating before you attempt to fall asleep.

8. Exercise in the morning/afternoon…..I understand this is impossible for some, and that being said, too bad! Exercise=stimulation and stress (good stress), and your body needs plenty of time to recover from it. If you do it at 6 or 7 at night, and then try to go to bed by 10 or 11, you may not be giving your body enough time to calm down. *A quick note on folks who do aerobic exercise (spinning, treadmill, elliptical) I don’t want to tell you not to do something you enjoy, but be forewarned that aerobic exercise can be more trouble than it’s worth. I won’t get into it’s inefficiency for burning fat, but it raises your cortisol (stress hormone) and decreases your Testosterone. I suggest you read this article by Charles Poliquin and try lifting weights instead.

9. Eat the right foods….you should definitely eat a little something before bed, ideally 2-3 hours. Don’t make it something like beans or a plate full of broccoli, although those foods are great, they’re loaded with fiber and tough on the digestive system. Your detoxing organs (liver, kidneys) shouldn’t be working hard when trying to wind down. Your best choices are protein or slow burning carbs. I like sweet potatoes, quinoa, or gluten free oatmeal. Avoid refined/sugary processed foods, as they will just spike your insulin creating a terrible situation for your hormones, not to mention they make you fat and will kill you!

10. Floss, scrape, brush! You read that right, take care of your teeth! I learned this from my buddy Ryan at Enfuse Fitness. Believe it or not, poor dental hygiene leads to a host of bad health problems, but in terms of sleep, check this one out….there’s lots of bacteria in your mouth, some of it bad and some of it good. All of this bacteria gets sent straight to your gut which is where the large majority of your immune system is (hence probiotics for health). If you don’t tend to your teeth and mouth before bed, you’re creating a disturbance in your gut which can then alter your sleeping patterns. Remember, all your organs need to be in harmony in order to have restorative and regenerative sleep, and if your gut isn’t working properly it’s going to set many things off.

11. Take magnesium….another one from Charles Poliquin, magnesium is a mighty mineral that helps calm the central nervous system. I’ve mentioned the CNS enough times by now that you’ll start to realize how important it is for sleeping. I can’t live without magnesium, I bring it on the road, take it after workouts. Here’s the thing, you can’t just get it at CVS or a generic store. It MUST BE HIGH QUALITY or else the body can’t absorb it. Read that again, you’re wasting your time with a cheap form of it and it won’t work. I use this companies particular brand, Nutraceutical or even Charles Poliquin’s UberMag *Start with 500 mg 2 hours before bed with a light meal.

12. Ice cold showers before bed….yes, ice cold showers! I got this insane tip from Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Body. I’m not going to get into detail, but a long story short it helps with the pituitary glands stimulation of Melatonin. Notice I put this one last because it’s extreme, but it works wonders. When I get out of that ice cold water and jump into bed, all I want to do is sleep!

I hope this helps and if you’d like, share the article with your friends on Facebook