No matter what you're trying to accomplish in life there's one thing that always has an impact on how well you will do: the amount of sleep you get every night.
Being well rested helps you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It increases your will power and improves your mood.
Sleep affects so many aspects of daily life, yet many people struggle to get enough.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to help yourself sleep better, from tweaking your sleep environment to increasing your magnesium intake.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of a healthcare professional. While my wife and I have been taking magnesium supplements every day for years, I can't say how they might affect you. Always consult a doctor if you have health concerns: don't try to self-diagnose!
Control Your Sleep Environment
Some causes of insomnia are out of your control. Your job may require you to work odd hours or you may have chronic pain that keeps you awake. These are things you have to manage as best you can for now while working to address them over time.
However there are other causes that when tweaked and optimized can have an immediate effect. Quite often the changes you make to things you can control can be enough to get you the rest you need.
Doctors call this 'sleep hygiene' but I've always hated this term. It makes me think I should be cleaning something while sleeping.
Things to try:
- Reduce caffeine intake, especially later in the day (this is a no-brainer).
- Tweak your sleeping environment: make the room cool, comfortable, and quiet. A white noise machine and a better mattress can have a big impact.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. This trains your body to know when it should be preparing for sleep and keeps all your internal rhythms synchronized.
- Create a pre-bedtime routine that relaxes you, such as some light reading or meditation. Taking a hot shower or bath can help you relax as well (and that's true sleep hygiene!).
- Do everything you can to avoid bright lights before bed, especially the screens on TVs, computers, tablets and phones: these screens are bright and will tell your brain to "Wake UP!" instead of "Relax".
- Try light therapy in the morning. Sunlight tells the brain it is daytime, so spending some time outdoors each morning can help your body learn when it should be awake. If being outdoors isn't an option, you can try a light therapy device that simulates the blue light the sun generates.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise has been proven to improve sleep. Mornings or afternoons are better times for exercise than right before bed though ... don't run for an hour then expect to go right to sleep as your body will be wide awake!
- Try taking magnesium for sleep: magnesium is soothing to your body and helps you relax (see below).
Food Can Affect Sleep
Something else you can tweak is what you do or do not eat before bed.
Some people sleep better on an empty stomach. Not eating before bed can reduce the chances of getting Acid Reflux.
Others sleep better with a full belly. If you have something light and healthy before bed you can prevent having low blood sugar in the middle of the night.
Either way, try to avoid having a lot of sugar before bed. It can act like caffeine for a short while and wake you up instead of relaxing you.
Also try not to drink too much before bed. Frequent bathroom breaks in the wee-hours of the morning will disturb anyone's rest!
Breathe Easier To Sleep Easier
Many people have trouble breathing when they sleep.
Sometimes this is the result of your throat muscles relaxing when you fall asleep, to the point that your airway becomes closed and your breathing becomes too shallow or stops entirely. This is called Sleep Apnea and can be related to snoring.
A sleep study can help you determine if you have Sleep Apnea. Common remedies are CPAP machines and dental devices, both of which open your airway without requiring surgery.
Another common problem is trouble breathing through your nose when you lie down. This is often caused by allergies or chronic congestion, and there are tweaks you can try for these was well:
- You may have dust allergies. Pillows collect dust like crazy, so try washing your pillow and pillow case in hot water to see if that helps. If it does, there are special pillow covers you can get that can help by keeping your pillow free of dust and other allergens.
- Try nasal strips. These are little band-aid looking strips that stick to the outside of your nose and pull your nostrils open more than they otherwise would be. They may look silly, but I can say from personal experience that they do help quite a bit.
- Try a decongestant. There are a number of over-the-counter decongestants you can try. Be careful though as some can make you feel wide awake and keep you from sleeping, and as always talk to your doctor before trying any medication.
Magnesium For Sleep
Magnesium is critical to so many things our bodies do, and sleep is no exception.
In fact it is known to help our bodies relax because it can:
- Reduce the affects of stress and anxiety
- Relax muscles
- Calm the nervous system
Not getting enough magnesium in your daily diet can cause you to:
- Feel agitated all night long
- Wake up frequently
- Sleep less deeply
Before I learned about the importance of magnesium I had a horrible time sleeping. It took me forever to fall asleep, I would wake up multiple times in the middle of the night, and I had frequent nightmares. Taking magnesium helps me sleep so much better!
I also deal with Restless Leg Syndrome, and magnesium has greatly reduced the frequency and severity of my symptoms.
So be sure to get enough magnesium in your diet, either through healthy eating or supplementation. It's a natural sleep remedy!
Treat Sleep Like An Experiment
Sleep is like a lot of other things in life: what works for someone else may or may not work for you.
Your best bet is to experiment. Tweak one thing and see how you sleep over the course of a week or two to see if the change makes any difference. If it does, great! If not, set it side and try something else.
I also strongly suggest you talk to a doctor if you haven't already. They can test your magnesium levels and suggest other things you can try that you may not think of on your own.
The key is to try only one thing at a time so you will know which changes make a positive impact and which do not.