Written by Emily Rollins
Getting a good night’s rest is hard these days, but it shouldn’t have to be. Don’t settle for poor sleep. Instead, use these five hacks to gain control of your insomnia and get ready to wake up as a healthier, happier person!
Problem #1: Tense muscles and twitchy legs
The hack: Magnesium
You may as well think of magnesium as the “miracle mineral” because it has a powerful positive effect on your mind and body. If you experience tense muscles or twitchy legs (called myoclonic jerks) at night, then a magnesium supplement may do wonders for you. Magnesium is known to relieve muscle tension, promote sleepiness, relax the mind, and even lower your levels of cortisol, which is your “stress hormone.”
Tip: Look for a powdered magnesium supplement rather than a pill. Powdered solutions are more bioavailable and are absorbed more quickly so you can start snoozing in a blink.
Problem #2: A busy mind
The hack: A “worry journal”
Does your mind come alive the second your head hits your pillow at night? If the cogs in your brain start turning as soon as you need to sleep, then you might want to invest in a “worry journal.” You don’t even have to get a real journal—any loose piece of notebook paper will do for this hack. As you’re getting ready for bed, let your thoughts run wild, and write down every idea, to-do list, and worry you may have. By pouring your thoughts onto paper, you’re giving your brain a chance to let go of them for the night. Once you have them written down, you can rest at ease, knowing that you can pick back up with your ideas in the morning.
Tip: don’t document your thoughts on your laptop or smartphone (see problem #5 for reasons to avoid this)! For best results, use the good old fashioned pen-and-paper technique for this hack.
Problem #3: Nighttime anxiety
The hack: A weighted blanket
While some may find sleeping under weighted blanket to be a little claustrophobic, lots children and adults say the feeling of a consistent weight makes them feel more relaxed. (It’s like getting a nice, firm hug!) Weighted blankets first became popularized by parents of children on the autism spectrum, but now they are a great tool for any sleeper who experiences nighttime anxiety.
Problem #4: Waking up hungry
The hack: A hearty bedtime snack
If you often find yourself suddenly awake at 3 AM and wandering towards the kitchen, then your blood sugar may be dipping a little too low while you sleep. Waking up feeling starving, physically weak, or anxious may indicate that a small bedtime snack might do you some good…but not just any food will do!
Eat a small snack that primarily contains protein or fat about 20 minutes before you go to bed. Fats and proteins raise your blood sugar more slowly than carbohydrates do, but they will also keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night so you don’t get a “crash” a few hours after you’ve gone to bed.
Ideal snack ideas: a handful of nuts, peanut butter and apple slices, a cheese stick, avocado toast, a low sugar protein bar, or a hardboiled egg.
Problem #5: Screen time at the wrong time
The hack: Blue light filters
Blue light may be the number one enemy when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep and unfortunately we’re exposed to it all day, every day. The blue light that comes from our laptops computers, our smartphones, and our TVs prevents our brain from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy and prepares us for restful sleep. Due to these scrambled signals, our body continues to think that it’s still daytime even we’re burning the midnight oil, and we stay wide awake.
How can we battle blue light?
Tip 1: Make a commitment to get off all screens one to two hours before you plan on going to bed. This may be hard at first, but your body and brain will thank you for it!
Tip 2: Install “blue light filters” on your computer and smartphone. These free applications can cut the amount of blue light emitted from your device by 50-80%, which will make evening screen time a little less problematic.