– Contributed by – Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer and Author of best-selling program The Truth about Six-Pack Abs.
I’ve noticed by working with clients that a large majority of people in today’s fast-paced stressful world are struggling at least part of the time with falling asleep at night.
I’ve also struggled on occasion with insomnia because of stress and I’ve researched and learned quite a few tips and tricks over the years to help fight insomnia and fall asleep faster.
Without diving into every single technique I’ve learned, I’ll just touch on a few really simple but powerful tips that I think can help you fall asleep easier and faster too!
1. The most important sleep tip to start with:
This one isn’t a specific food or drink, but rather probably THE most important tip I can give you… if you don’t follow this one, your chances of being able to wind down at night and fall asleep fast are unlikely.
You need to eliminate use of devices, computers, emails, and any other work related device (or other stressful things) at least 3 hours before you plan to go to sleep.
Using devices or computers for casual reading at night is fine, but don’t do any work that gets your mind overly activated, such as anything dealing with work or other stressful things in life.
Also, even for casual reading, it’s best to turn off devices at least 1 hour before bed as keeping your eyes focused on the light from devices is one thing that some researchers are saying could interfere with getting quality sleep.
An overly active mind late at night is one of the biggest things keeping many people from falling asleep. As a success-driven entrepreneur myself, I used to work really late at night and then I’d find that my mind was always too active to actually be able to fall asleep, so I’d lay there for hours sometimes until I could get my mind to slow down so I could fall asleep.
This may sound weird, but one trick that’s worked for me is to grab a book while I lay in bed on something that I find sort of boring and try to read the book in bed.
Because the topic is “boring” to me personally, it keeps my mind away from things that I find more interesting, and it allows me to fall right to sleep. So for example, if you find health and fitness interesting (I hope you do!), but you find economics boring, try reading an economics book as you lay in bed.
I bet you’ll get sleepy and fall asleep much faster than if you laid in bed letting all your thoughts about daily life race through your mind.
2. No caffeine after mid-day:
You’ve probably heard this tip many times, so I’ll keep this one short… It takes about 6 hours for caffeine to be fully processed and eliminated by your body, so make sure your last caffeinated drink of the day (coffee, black tea, mate, etc) is at LEAST 6 hours or more before your planned bedtime.
And if you’ve been showing any adrenal fatigue from lab hormone tests, you should also consider reducing your daily caffeine intake if you currently use it.
3. Tart cherries or tart cherry juice:
Tart cherries (Montmorency) actually contain a natural form of melatonin that can help you to naturally get sleepy and more easily fall asleep. I’ve found frozen tart cherries a few times in specialty grocery stores and I use them for a late night smoothie occasionally.
I’ve also found a tart cherry concentrate in Whole Foods and other health food stores that you can add to a drink or caffeine-free tea at night to help get you that low dose natural melatonin.
I use 1 spoonful of this tart cherry concentrate in a cup of chamomile or mint tea late at night. This helps immensely for calming down and falling asleep at night.
A side benefit is that tart cherry also contains powerful antioxidants that fight joint pain, gout and other inflammation related problems.
4. DON’T overdose on melatonin supplements (most contain TOO MUCH)
Did you know that most people overdose on melatonin supplements. Most melatonin supplements come in either 3 mg or even 5 mg doses. However, according to some researchers, anything more than 1 mg might be too high of a dose.
This can disrupt your sleep cycle the following day, making it hard to wake up in the morning, and harder to fall asleep the following night, disrupting your overall sleep cycle.
The proper dose seems to be something less than 1 mg from most experts on this topic (this was even discussed on the Dr Oz show), which is why I choose to never use melatonin supplements, and only get the small natural quantities found in tart cherries or tart cherry juice.
5. Night time teas:
Try “night time teas” that have relaxing qualities such as chamomile tea, mint tea, lemongrass tea, or all of them mixed.
A side benefit of chamomile tea is that it contains unique phytonutrients that can help fight estrogenic overload from all of the xenoestrogens that we are exposed to from chemicals, pesticides, etc in today’s chemical laden world.
Also remember that you can add a spoonful of the tart cherry concentrate and you’ll get a double-whammy of sleep aid! This works well about 1-2 hours before bedtime to help your body and mind relax.
One more tip…
If you still have troubles falling asleep even after implementing all of these tips, make sure to pay attention to fixing any hormonal issues you might have.
These include any possible adrenal fatigue, since being overly stressed out during the day can cause imbalances in your natural cortisol cycle which can make you more awake at night and more tired in the morning (obviously the opposite of what you want).
Eliminate any stressors from your life if you can, and also try other relaxation techniques including meditation as a way to deal with stress if you still feel that you’re too stressed out each day.
Make sure to pay attention to ALL of the tips above (especially #1) as they can all combine into a powerful regimen that relaxes you to sleep each night without any more insomnia, leaving you more energetic and ready to be productive when you wake up each day!
For more information on how to sleep better, lose weight and take care of your body, Click here!