How to Get a Better Sleep
The Ultimate Guide from Webber Naturals
If you find yourself chasing a good night’s sleep, night after night, and suffering from sleep deprivation, you are not alone. A majority of Canadian adults, approximately 60%, are sleep deprived, averaging 6.9 hours of sleep a night although experts recommend 7–9 hours. Further Canadian research reveal that 30% of adults get less than 6 hours a night. Fortunately, there are natural things you can do to ease yourself into a good night’s sleep! In this guide you’ll get some very useful tips, plus a sleep log for keeping track of the quality of your sleep. There is a wide range of possible reasons for sleep disruption, therefore, keeping a sleep log can be helpful in identifying the causes.
The Benefits of Sleep
Sleep plays an important role in your physical and cognitive health. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to heart disease, obesity, altered cognitive performance, and changes in mood and behaviour. Your body needs sleep to recover from the day’s activities. It helps repair damaged cells and recharge your nervous system.
Table of Contents
Here’s what you need to know about getting a better night’s sleep:
The 5 Stages of Sleep
Most adults experience five or more sleep cycles each night. Each cycle consists of two distinct types of sleep: non-REM (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep is further divided into four sleep stages and REM sleep is when dreams typically occur. The five stages of NREM sleep and REM sleep are classified as follows:
Stage 1 of NREM (5–10 minutes)
You are in very light sleep. Your eyes are closed, you’re easily awoken, your muscle activity slows, and sometimes you get a sensation of falling.
Stage 2 of NREM (20 minutes)
You are in light sleep. Your body temperature drops and your heart rate slows as the body gets ready for deeper sleep.
Stage 3 of NREM (transition to deep sleep)
You have extremely slow brain waves (delta waves) interspersed with smaller, faster waves.
Stage 4 of NREM (30 minutes)
You are in the delta sleep phase which is a deep sleep phase. It is difficult to wake you. Your body has very little movement, and it repairs and rejuvenates during this stage.
Stage 5 REM sleep (10 minutes to an hour)
You experience rapid, shallow, irregular breathing. Your eyes move rapidly and your muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Your brain waves increase to the same as waking levels. This is when most dreams occur and is the deepest phase of sleep.
- Cherry juice
- Dark chocolate
- Herbal tea
- Warm milk
- Whole grains
3 Complete Snacks that are Good to Eat Before Bed
- Half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese and an apple
- Half an avocado on a slice of whole grain toast
- A handful of raw nuts or seeds and a small bowl of cherries
DID YOU KNOW? Sleep helps keep your weight, memory, brain function, mood, immune system, and cardiovascular system in check.
Stick to a Schedule
Sticking to the same bedtime and wake-up time (yes, even on weekends!) helps maintain your normal circadian rhythm. Allowing your body to maintain its internal clock naturally improves sleep quality.
Tips to Reset Your Internal Clock:
- Wake up at the same time every day
- Get natural sunlight every day
- Cut back on caffeine and avoid it altogether after 2:00 pm
- Keep your bedroom as dark as possible (this will help your body produce melatonin)
- Go to bed at the same time every day
Keep a Routine
Bedtime routines are effective signals for sleep as they can work to calm and relax your body and mind. There is no “perfect” bedtime routine. It may take a bit of experimenting to find the right combination of activities that help you feel ready for sleep. Here is an example of a routine that you can incorporate into your pre-bed ritual. Personalize this list by adding in the things that are important to you! Just keep in mind to stay away from blue-light producing devices such as your TV or smartphone.
- Take a bath
- Wash your face
- Brush your teeth
- Read for 15 minutes
- Set an alarm
- Listen to relaxing music
Stretch Out Your Slumber
Those who engage in regular exercise generally have a better sleep. A minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times per week, preferably during the day, can play a positive role in reducing stress and anxiety levels. Exercise can include a variety of activities such as walking, running, swimming, or yoga.
Kneeling Side Bend
Be sure to protect your knees! Avoid sudden movement, and focus on slow, smooth transitions. Stop if you feel any sharp pain.
- Place left hand on the floor to help support your weight
- Relax left arm, allowing your knee to slowly adjust to the weight of your rib cage
- Slowly lean your body left for a good stretch
- Return to centre and repeat on right side
Get Up to Fall Asleep? Yes!
There’s nothing worse than lying in bed, tossing back and forth, fretting over not being able to sleep. So if it’s been 15 minutes and sleep just isn’t coming, get up and do something! Pick an activity that won’t excite you or wake you up too much. For example, choose something such as reading from a physical paper book or meditating.
DID YOU KNOW? In a study of people who use gadgets before bed, 63% of participants said that their sleep needs were not met during the week.
Drop Your Devices
Technology can suppress melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep sleep/wake cycle. The blue light emitted by screens on cellphones, computers, tablets, and televisions has been shown to restrain the production of melatonin. Unplug and give yourself 30 minutes of gadget-free time before bed.
Related Reading from our Be Well Blog:
Everyone knows that a bad night’s sleep can make you feel less than your best, but how much of a toll on mind and body does sleep deprivation really take? And what happens when one bad night turns into two, or three, or several years of poor quality sleep? In the last 30 to 40 years … Read More.
DID YOU KNOW? We spend a third of our lives asleep. That’s about 25 years!
Bring the Noise
White noise works by drowning out the disruptive sounds that might wake us up, like snoring, traffic outside our window, or a neighbour playing music. Because the sound is steady but unpredictable, it gently captivates our attention without requiring any real focus.
Make Your Own White Noise
White noise machines are readily available, and aren’t too expensive, but there are a lot of things around the house that can emulate white noise too – like an everyday fan! Ok, so, we realize we just told you to avoid looking at your phone before bed, but there are also a lot of great white noise apps available for tablets and smartphones. Here are a few suggestions available on both iOS and Android to download on your device today. Just be sure to turn on your smartphone’s “night mode” and avoid looking at the illuminated screen as much as possible to minimize exposure to blue light.
Relax, meditate, focus, sleep, and rest with 3D sounds
Mix different sounds and create your perfect environment
Play “dreamscapes” to quickly quiet your mind
Related Reading from our Be Well Blog:
Natural Sleep Aids that Can Help
Adults who sleep less than 6 hours a night are at greater risk of daytime fatigue, which can negatively affect behaviour and productivity. If your sleep pattern is thrown off by jet lag, stress, an irregular schedule, a sleep disorder or age-related factors, a melatonin supplement can help you get back on track. Melatonin helps you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep longer, and improve sleep quality. In a research study, melatonin was also shown to have positive effects on primary sleep disorders. These include restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), sleep-related breathing disorders (snoring, shortness of breath, sleep apnea), and narcolepsy. Webber Naturals is the best-selling brand of melatonin in Canada. Check out our Where to Buy page and pick up a bottle today at your favourite pharmacy or grocery store.
Some of Canada’s Favourites:
Keep Track of Your Sleep
Identify patterns and habits that are helping or hindering your quality of sleep by keeping track of your sleep. Download the Webber Naturals Sleep Log to track the quality of your sleep, along with notes on what you feel is making a positive or negative impact on your sleep (e.g., sleep aids, a particular routine etc.). After several days, the sleep log should help you get a sense of what works best for you. You can then use the information gained to set up a long-term plan to help you get the restorative sleep you need.
1. Culpepper L. Secondary insomnia in the primary care setting: review of diagnosis, treatment, and management. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006 Jul; 22(7):1257-68. [PubMed] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16834824
2. Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH. Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e63773. 3. Based on market share. Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, 52 Weeks Ending August 18, 2018.