You have probably heard the expression "Sleeping like a baby" any number of times. If you are a new parent, this expression is probably lost on you, since you might be wondering what that means. Do babies actually sleep? Gaining a little perspective, and not being in the mode of being a sleep-deprived new parent, you can actually see that the expression is pretty accurate. Kids play hard and they rest hard. Sometimes even just dropping where they stand and sleeping very heavy. You have probably asked yourself where those days have gone in your adulthood. Why is it that sleep seems so elusive the older you get?
In adulthood, we have a word for this: Insomnia. It can vary in degrees, from restless nights of light sleeping and frequent interruptions, to more serious bouts of sleeplessness for days at a time. When you were younger it was probably no big deal to miss a few nights sleep, either out on the town, at parties, or even pulling an all-nighter to finish that term paper that was half your grade. Which you just started that night.
Oddly enough, the same thing that was keeping you up while you wrote that paper have stuck with you in your daily life. Stress is a major factor in poor sleeping patterns. Overthinking things can lead to your mind running a race that never ends, and even if sleep does find you, your dreams might just be a reflection of the stress of the day, only really amped up and weird! Unlike that two year old you watched run around the house all evening, only to fall into an immediate drool-on-the-pillow eight hour hibernation, your mind has latched on a lot of things that have triggered a reflex to keep you alert and ready for reacting to stress as a method of self-preservation. Now you can't sleep!
Well, what can you do?
Diet and Exercise!
It's good for your heart and body as the endorphins that exercise produces helps allow you to relax! Be sure not to exercise too closely to bedtime, or else you could find yourself suddenly energized by all that activity. It could have the opposite of the desired effect, since cardio and weight training is often as good as a cup of coffee to get you going.
Speaking of coffee, if you are an avid consumer of caffeine, try limiting consumption of coffee, tea, or soft drinks to much earlier in the day, since your heart could still be racing and it will affect your rest. It's also a good idea to stop eating for the day at least a few hours before bedtime. Acid reflux, especially when you are in a reclining position, can give you serious pains that will also keep you awake and miserable. Use of antacids can help curb this, as can finding a diet that works better with your body to eliminate acid reflux. If it's serious enough you should consult a doctor as it may be an indication of a more serious condition.
Get a better bed!
Last but not least, find a mattress that suits you. Comfort is key when it comes to falling asleep and staying there to become fully rested. The old fable of the Princess and the Pea isn't too far off the mark, with a worn out mattress being a serious culprit in stealing away hours of restful sleep that you need to stay in good health!