Those in recovery, especially early in sobriety, can find it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Insomnia is a common experience in treatment and without the aid of substances to induce sleep, it can seem impossible to fall asleep. Finding new, natural ways to fall asleep is imperative as it can greatly improve your experience in sobriety. Restoring natural balance to your body through quality sleep can have numerous benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. Fortunately, there are several ways to create new routines that can lead to more restful nights.
Natural Remedies to Improve Sleep
There are changes you can make to your daily routine to improve your quality of sleep. While sleep aids may be tempting to use, they are not always necessary. Some natural ways to improve sleep include:
- Exercise regularly: Exercising can have numerous benefits for your physical and mental health, and it is also linked to improved quality of sleep. Studies show that exercise can improve deep sleep although the reasoning is not completely understood. Because exercise also releases endorphins and increases body temperature, it is best to avoid exercising within an hour or so of going to sleep as this can have the opposite effect.
- Maintain a regular bedtime: Sleeping at irregular hours can affect the sleep-wake cycle of a person. When you sleep at odd hours, it can cause the body to struggle with sleep issues, especially when going to bed and waking at odd hours. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, is important for improving quality of sleep.
- Change your sleep environment: Distractions in the bedroom can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. You can make your bedroom more sleep-friendly by keeping a cooler temperature in the room, turning off electronics, such as the television and your phone, and using blackout curtains to ensure the room is dark enough.
- Wind down: Make time to wind down before going to bed. Screen time with phones or television can be too stimulating before bed and make it difficult to fall asleep. Consider other activities such as meditation, slow yoga, reading a book, or a warm bath before bed to relax your mind and make falling asleep easier.
- Avoid napping: Daytime napping can be tempting, but it can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If you do need a nap, keeping it under an hour and ensuring it does not happen to late in the day is important to not interrupt your sleep later.
- Avoid large meals and drinks before bed: If you are hungry before bed, a light snack is better than a large meal. Eating large meals before bed can cause indigestion that may interrupt your sleep. Too much liquid at night can also disrupt sleep as you may find yourself waking up several times to use the bathroom. If you do need to use the bathroom at night, you may find that it can take up to 30 minutes to fall back asleep, but this is completely normal.
- Reduce caffeine consumption: Caffeine consumption is a normal part of many people’s daily routines, but consuming too much, especially close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. Caffeine increases energy levels and can be too stimulating late at night. Studies suggest that consuming caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime can disrupt a person’s sleep patterns.
- Melatonin supplements: It is important to speak with your doctor before taking melatonin. Rather than taking sleep aids, many people opt to use melatonin as a natural sleep supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep-wake cycles and it is available in many health stores. It can help a person fall asleep more quickly if they have difficulty falling asleep on their own.
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