About three years ago, I remember thinking how much it would suck if I wasn’t a good sleeper. And then I turned 45. Oy.
So with that opener, it shouldn’t be a surprise that every now and then I can’t sleep at night. Like tonight. So, to make productive use of my time not spent sleeping, here are the highlights of some late-night online research into how we can get better sleep.
No screens within an hour before bed.
This one’s a challenge for me since I like to read magazines online before I fall asleep. In my defense they are news magazines. For reals. Anyway, anything with a backlit screen is supposed to be pretty bad for sleep quality. Coincidentally, I discovered on my iPhone late last night that there’s an option to put it into “Night Shift” mode. Apparently, colors at the warmer end of the spectrum may not keep you up as much as those at the blue end. Here’s more info on warm and blue light in case you’re interested.
Try not to nap.
I’m not a napper. I hate that feeling of waking up from a nap in the middle of the day. But I do get tired during the day, so having some tricks to not succumbing to sleep is a good idea. My mid-afternoon slump can generally be solved in one of three ways: drink some coffee (not decaf, duh), eat a snack (apple slices with almond butter), or some quick exercise, preferably outdoors. If you are a napper, here’s some advice from the Mayo Clinic about do’s and don’ts of napping.
Avoid later-in-the-day coffee.
So, this runs totally counter to the “drink coffee so you don’t nap in the afternoon” suggestion. I’m pretty sure my issue isn’t afternoon coffee drinking. I’ve tested theory, and I hated it. Lot’s of people are sensitive to caffeine. Thank goodness I’m not one of them.
Don’t eat a heavy late dinner.
There’s nothing worse than trying to go to sleep with a bloated stomach. Experts suggest eating at least an hour before going to bed. My own personal experience–because we’re all different–suggests at least two hours. Ideally three.
Turn on a fan.
Or alternatively download an app that plays white noise. Just try to eliminate that deafening silence. This article in Popular Science explains why, but in a nutshell, white noise, like the noise of a fan, can mask other noises that might ordinarily wake you up.
So how does massage play into this? I find that if I have tight muscles–particularly in my neck–then I can’t sleep. Just turning my head slightly at night can wake me up when I’ve got a neck tweak. And I’ve found that a good massage that pays attention to my neck and to the area under and between my shoulder blades can help alleviate it quicker than just waiting for it to go away by itself. Everyone is different as to particular aches and pains and what helps alleviate them, but if they’re keeping you awake at night, it’s not good.