What I Have Learned About Sleep

Let’s talk about sleep. Some of us fall asleep easily, sleep through the night and wake feeling completely rested and refreshed. Every night.Then there are those of us who lay awake in bed, wake up several times a night to use the restroom, wake at any small noise, and in the morning are so tired it feels like we could use a whole other night of sleep.I am somewhere in the middle, but my sleep is improving gradually. I thought it might be helpful to list a few of the things I have learned over the past few years. Some you will probably know already, others might be completely new. I work from the perspective that I never know when a tip will be life changing and I am willing to try different things to see what might work for me. 1. I avoid fruit in the evening. No sweeteners, including sweet kuzu drinks. No hot apple cider. Every single time I do this I end up waking to urinate within a few hours of going to sleep and sometimes several times in the night. Water and unsweetened tea don’t seem to cause this same issue.2. I try to finish eating by 6:30 pm. 6 pm works even better. I think that any excess food in the evening will trigger trying to eliminate excess (needing to get up to urinate). I also feel like that excess food in my system contributes to an inability to settle, more active thoughts, and even restless sleep.3. This one’s pretty obvious. No action movies, news or any content that will get me amped up anywhere close to bedtime. I’m a sensitive soul.4. Time outside some time during the day, hopefully with sunshine. The earlier the better.5. Waking up at a regular time every morning, even on nights where I haven’t slept well. Out of bed by 7 am is particularly beneficial.6. Guided meditation. I often do one right before bedtime. Here is a link to 5 really nice ones by Nicole Cody. I love the Guided Heart Meditation and the Healing Light Meditation. I also listen to some with Tara Brach on YouTube. There are guided visualizations all over the place if you do a search. Do some exploring and see what resonates for you. I always sleep better.7. I am not sure if it is helping with my sleep, but I know a lot of people use a magnesium supplement. I would talk with your doctor first and get tested to check your levels. My naturopath has me taking some for my heart and the nights I take it I can feel my system calm down and I sleep better.8. I make sure I am warm enough. This one has made a huge difference. Before macrobiotics I was one of those people lovingly called a “furnace.” Post macrobiotics, without all the animal foods creating heat in my system, my body doesn’t generate nearly as much heat and I sometimes feel cold. It took me a while to realize that being cold was keeping me awake. I have grown more comfortable with wearing socks to bed. I still can’t believe I am actually saying that.After falling asleep our body temperature naturally drops a bit and if we end up getting too cold our kidneys contract (and we get tighter inside in general) and that can lead to a need to urinate in the middle of the night.There are other tricks that experts talk about, like a hot shower before bed, no screens, exercise earlier in the day, but this is a list of the actions that have made a big difference for me. If you have trouble sleeping, I hope you try a few.