If you frequently lie awake for large portions of the night or find yourself waking up at all hours, unable to fall back asleep, you are part of a sleep crisis that affects women across the nation. While the recommended amount of sleep for women is 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, the average woman between the ages of 30 and 60 only receives about 6 hours and 41 minutes, reports the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The NSF also performed a 2005 study that found women are more likely than men to struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Insomnia, or habitual sleeplessness, is a chronic condition that leads to fatigue, reduced productivity, and illness. If a lack of sleep is wearing you down, I recommend you try the following methods to beat your insomnia and sleep like an angel:
Choose foods that help you sleep. If you need a snack before bed, don’t reach for some dark chocolate or a bottle of wine. Opt for a food with healthy nutrition that’s also compatible with a good night’s rest, such as cherries, sweet potatoes, valerian tea, turkey, jasmine rice, and golden milk turmeric tea (an Ayurvedic Indian drink that has powerful medicinal properties).
Set your alarm for the same time every day, no matter how late you go to bed. If you fall asleep and wake up at different times each day, your body can’t settle into a rhythm that tells it when to feel tired.
Turn off bright lights and screens an hour before bedtime. Darkness alerts the brain to release melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Exposure to bright lights after dark throws off your melatonin cycles, preventing melatonin from being released at the proper time and in sufficient amounts. Additionally, not receiving enough light exposure during the day, especially upon waking or early in the morning, can have the same effect.
Relax your body and your mind before bed. Dedicating a period of time to relaxation before bed, whether to brush your teeth and wash your face or read a book, helps your mind unwind from the stress and exertion of the day. If you have difficulty calming your mind, focus on your body first through breathing exercises.
Keep the temperature in your room cool. High temperatures can keep you awake longer and fragment your sleep. On warm nights, closing your blinds, investing in blackout curtains, and cracking your windows can all help you maintain an ideal temperature for sleep.
Seek treatment for depression. Whether chronic or seasonal, depression can result in sleep problems such as insomnia.
Consider the side effects of your medication. Some medications, including antidepressants, can include insomnia as a side effect. If you take any medications that can cause insomnia, talk with your doctor about your prescription.
Have your thyroid checked. Hypothyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can lead to insomnia and fatigue, and is far more common than you may think. Women who are pregnant, were recently pregnant, take certain medications, or have undergone thyroid surgery or radiation therapy are at an increased risk of hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is treated very specifically, with the lab testing correlated to your symptoms.
You do not need to endure sleepless nights or power through your exhaustion day after day. Contact Sage Nutrition and Healing Center at 303.503.5969 today and schedule an appointment with me to discuss additional ways to treat insomnia and improve sleep naturally. I look forward to helping you achieve the rest you deserve.