How to Improve Insomnia (Sleep)

Excerpts from: Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep

If you are having sleep problems, whether you are not able to fall asleep, wake up too often, don’t feel well-rested when you wake up in the morning, or simply want to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, try as many of the following techniques below as possible:

  1. Avoid before–bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
  2. Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin, which are important for sleep. Circadian rhythms are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day (circadian is the Latin word for “around a day”). Most circadian rhythms are controlled by the body’s biological “clock.” Therefore it is important to dim the lights starting one hour before bedtime, along with turning off the TV. Good block–out drapes should cover the bedroom windows so that no light is getting in from the outside. Also there should be as little light as possible if you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom; therefore do not use a night light. Also see Sleep and Circadian Rhythms.
  3. No TV 1/2 hour before bed. The TV is very stimulating to the brain, which will take longer to fall asleep. It is also disruptive of pineal gland function for the same reason as above.
  4. Wear socks to bed. Due to the fact that they have the poorest circulation, the feet often feel cold before the rest of the body. Wearing socks to bed will keep them warm and reduce waking up at night.
  5. Do deep breathing exercises. With our busy stressful lives and when were are unhealthy our bodies react by running on its flight/flight nervous system (sympathetic system), which speeds up some processes, like adrenaline production, heart rate, etc., and slows down others, which interferes with sleep. In order to change your body over to its healing nervous system {parasympathetic system) do deep breathing exercises prior to going to bed, or just after you lay down – see Breathing Exercises.
  6. Melatonin Hormone. Melatonin production is very important for sleep. Its levels are increased naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime (along with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the winter) and absolute complete darkness at night. One should get blackout drapes so no light is coming in from the outside.
  7. Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenal glands, do a majority of their recharging during the hours of 11:00 PM and 1:00 PM. If you are awake the adrenals are not as able to recharge like they should. Prior to the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, and which Nature intended for humans as well.
  8. Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70°F. A cooler temperature promotes sleep since body temperature needs to lower in order to sleep properly.
  9. Eat enough protein and saturated fats for dinner/supper three or more hours before bed. Protein from meats and eggs provides L-tryptophan amino acids, and good saturated fats like unrefined coconut oil, butter, lard, and other natural occurring fats from animals are needed in order for your body to produce hormones like melatonin and serotonin, which help you sleep.
  10. Don’t consume fats, such as unrefined coconut oil and butter too close to bedtime. These fats are very energizing and go quickly into the bloodstream making it difficult to fall to sleep, so they should be consumed at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  11. Avoid caffeine. A recent study showed that in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and therefore they can feel the effects long after consuming it. So an afternoon cup of coffee (or even caffeinated tea) will keep some people from falling asleep. Caffeine is also in chocolate and tea.
  12. Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short–lived and you can wake up several hours later, unable to fall back to sleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.
  13. Avoid or eliminate toxins. Toxins are found in processed foods and drinks, cleaning and personal care products, in the environment, as well as all drugs and over-the-counter medicines, etc. Avoiding or eliminating them improves your sleep. During the night the liver processes toxins, and if it gets congested or overloaded with toxins it will interfere with sleep.
  14. Don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom or at least minimize the frequency.
  15. Take a warm [not hot] bath or shower 1 to 1/2 hour before bed. It will relax you and help lower your body temperature so you will sleep better. An Epsom Salt bath is better than a shower because your body absorbs the magnesium in it, which is relaxing.
  16. Go to bed at the same time every day. You should go to bed, and wake up, at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
  17. Get Daily Exercise. Exercising will help you fall asleep, even if it is a mild form such as dry skin brushing, walking, rebounding on a mini trampoline, etc. However, do not exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.