1. Adhere to the three environmental basics of good sleep. First, be sure your room is as dark as you can get it. This may mean additional blinds, blackout curtains or a sleeping mask. Secondly, the room must be quiet. Additional drapes or a white noise sound equalizer may help. Thirdly, the room needs to be cool. The temperature should be 68 degrees or less.
2. Poor sleep is often a symptom of anxiety, worry, obsession, guilt, unresolved anger, depression and many other emotional and spiritual problems. Be sure that you are working to resolve any issues or heal any wounds that leave you tossing and turning. A vital part of the treatment of these problems must be surrendering them to God. Allow Him to handle and heal what is beyond your abilities.
3. Poor sleep often results from a low serotonin level. Serotonin may be replenished through eating foods that promote serotonin production. Turkey, dairy products, and bananas are examples of such foods. Secondly, there are supplements such as 5HTP that may be helpful. Others experience serotonin depletion due to a genetic disorder, which may require medication. Don’t eat protein late at night. It can keep you awake. Eat a light carbohydrate snack an hour or two before bedtime, like a muffin, to get the tryptophan you ate earlier in the day into your brain.
4. After dinner, take a walk or do some type of exercise, but remember to complete these at least 3 hours before bedtime. Exercise too close to bedtime can be over stimulating. Early exercise can help you relax.
5. Just before you are ready to retire, drink a half-cup of herb tea that contains ingredients like Valerian or chamomile.
6. Alter what you consume. Don’t drink (or eat) anything with caffeine past noon. Chocolate, tea, coffee, colas, and other caffeine-laden drinks must not be consumed in the afternoon. Check the ingredients of anything you ingest to insure caffeine, ephedra, or other stimulants are absent.
7. Adequate sunlight is needed during the day to regulate proper sleep cycles. If you have a seasonal affective disorder, you may need a light box to add additional light during the day. You can learn about these light sources at Sun Box at (800) 548-3968.
8. If you’re struggling with sleep, don’t get in bed to watch television. If you cannot sleep, go into another room and read until you are sleepy. Do not get up and watch television because the color and light will be too stimulating to the brain.
9. If you awaken in the middle of the night, do not turn on a light or look to see what time it is. Both of these can stimulate the brain out of its sleep mode. Lay there and see if you fall back to sleep. If you do not fall back to sleep, get up, go into another room and read under a soft light until you feel sleepy. Return to bed and lay there, resting the remainder of the night, even if you do not sleep. Most likely, you will be sleeping on and off and not be aware of it. These brief awakenings are also great times for communion with God.
10. Try to develop a routine that works and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time.
Used with permission of New Life Ministries.
Stephen Arterburn M. Ed. is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries, a teaching pastor Northview Church and host of the nationally syndicated New Life Live! radio program.
Stephen is co-author of Take Your Life Back,which released from Tyndale in October 2016.