For the last two months (Part 1 and Part 2), we’ve discussed the importance of sleep and its effect on low back pain (LBP). Last month, we offered 9 ways to improve sleep quality, and this month we will conclude this topic with 11 more. Sleep deprivation has been called, “…an epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To achieve and maintain good health, we must ensure restorative sleep! Here are additional ways to do that (continued from last month):
- Avoid snacks at bedtime …especially grains and sugars as these will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you not only wake up but falling back to sleep becomes problematic. Dairy foods can also interrupt sleep.
- Take a hot bath, shower, or sauna before bed. This will raise your body temperature and cooling off facilitates sleep. The temperature drop from getting out of the bath signals to your body that “it’s time for bed.”
- Keep your feet warm! Consider wearing socks to bed as our feet often feel cold before the rest of the body because they have the poorest circulation. Cold feet make falling asleep difficult!
- Rest your mind! Stop “brain work” at least one hour before bed to give your mind a rest so you can calm down. Don’t think about tomorrow’s schedule or deadlines.
- Avoid TV right before bed. TV can be too stimulating to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly as it disrupts your pineal gland function.
- Consider a “sound machine.” Listen to the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to drown out upsetting background noise and soothe you to sleep.
- Relaxation reading. Don’t read anything stimulating before bed, such as a mystery or suspense novels, as it makes sleeping a challenge.
- Avoid PM caffeine. Studies show that caffeine can stay active in your system long after consumption.
- Avoid alcohol. Though drowsiness can occur, many will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. This can prohibit deep sleep, the most restoring sleep (~4th hour).
- Exercise regularly! Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep.
- Increase your melatonin. If you can’t increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime and absolute complete darkness at night, consider supplementation.