Are you a light sleeper? I admire my son, he has the ability to sleep through an hour of really loud fireworks! Yet I often waken up at the smallest sound, often lying there for a while wondering what the sound was and if I am ever going to get back to sleep. Being a light sleeper can have a profound impact upon our health as our sleep is often disturbed.
This can be so very frustrating especially if you end up lying awake for hours until close to your getting up time, it’s then you fall asleep and feel so tired when the alarm goes off. While I used to suffer from light sleep, after all the research I want to share with you my tips which I hope will help you if you are a light sleeper. Before getting in to the tips I wanted to share with you the science behind light sleepers before sharing with you my tips to help you get a better night’s sleep so you can arise feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
What is light sleeping?
Your sleep is in cycles. These are either REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement). We spend about 75% of our sleep in NREM, this again is broken down in to different categories. You can read more on the different elements of sleep and the different sleep cycles in my article here. Just to give you a little more information, light sleep is categorised as the first stage of sleep. Your body is basically between sleep and being awake. Most people then move on to the next stage of sleep, however if you are a light sleeper you tend to remain in stage 1 for most of the night, which means you can be awakened more easily. It is often teenagers that spend most of the time in deep sleep and as we get older that becomes less so, it is often at this point in our lives that we become light sleepers. Although having said that age isn’t as important as lifestyle choices are. For example our diet or even medical conditions can impact on our sleep.
When my sleep is interrupted, my body feels like it has been shaken to the core because it hasn’t had enough time for REM sleep. It is this part of being kept awake and having disturbed sleep that means we don’t get the much needed REM sleep that our bodies need. Your sleeping environment can also play a huge part in being a light sleeper so below I have also included some tips that will help you.
Before I do move on I want to raise the issue of your mattress. I watched a program recently that talked about changing our mattresses every 8 years. It is a huge investment but it really is worth it as we spend a lot of time on it! It also suggested that you don’t go on whether it is firm or soft, that it should be based on your weight and how supportive it is for you. So make sure you have the right mattress for your body weight and shape. This will cut down on any tossing and turning at night.
I’ve touched on your lifestyle choices and mattress above, however there may also be a scientific reason for being a light sleeper. Research was conducted at Harvard Medical School. They found that some people were better at blocking out ambient noise. You know the noise that goes on in the background such as road traffic? So it could be your brain not blocking these sounds out that stops you from going from light sleep to deep sleep. Perhaps a chat to your doctor would be in order to check this out.
Light sleeper remedies
There are many places to start but I wanted to share with you one that I love and works for me. A warm relaxing bath with lavender oil. I find that this essential oil in my bath, a few drops under my pillow has me drifting off to sleep in no time at all. I find that this 100% natural lavender essential oil is one of the best and I can highly recommend.
Another option is drinking chamomile tea. This has the desired effect of calming me and having me nodding off on the sofa before I even get to bed! This blend of Celestial tea is a great one to try.
If you want something that is convenient and won’t require a whole new routine, you can buy other natural sleep aids. As I consider myself a recovering light sleeper, I have tried the following and can recommend the best ones, but it really is trial and error so opt to try a few and see what works for you:
- Som Sleeping Drink: A 100% natural drink that really does get you to sleep without any problems. It is packed with Magnesium & Vitamin B6 to help make sure your sleep cycle is running smoothly. L-Theanine & GABA which promotes relaxation. Melatonin then jumpstarts the natural process of falling asleep.
- Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Now this isn’t just for sleep but I’ve used it for sleep, during exams, any time when I have needed to relax. It is a homeopathic remedy that has natural ingredients. This will help you relax.
- Alteril. Another natural remedy, Alteril has been used for years to get good, sound, restful sleep. Alteril helps you sleep soundly and gently. These don’t have any side effects like other drugs would have. You don’t waken up feeling groggy.
While I have listed what has worked for me, you may be different so trying different options will be the best thing to do. Also put it in to action with other routines which I will talk about below. The thing about light sleepers is that while something may work for a while, it may stop working if your body gets used to it so you are best rotating different options so your body is always willing to accept the help it needs to get a good night’s sleep.
Read a Book
When I start to read before bedtime I get a couple of page and then the eyes start to drop! Reading a book before bed helps to relax your mind as long as it’s a relaxing book and not a scary one! Give your brain the space it needs to switch off and relax.
Yoga is a relaxing exercise that you can use to again calm your mind but also your body. There are also videos that show you bed yoga, so you don’t have to get changed, just hop in your pjs and do some relaxing yoga before bed.
Adjust Temperature of Room
Our bodies start to cool down to get ready for sleep. Don’t have your bedroom too hot otherwise you will be tossing and turning. A nice cool temperature is the best but you may need to try several temperatures to see what is the right one for you.
Did you know that looking at the TV screen, your phone or a tablet before bed can keep you up at night? The blue light makes your brain think it is morning so it doesn’t shut off. I recommend leaving your gadgets in another room until the next morning and use black out curtains to keep any bright lights at bay too.
Reduce Outside Noise As Much As Possible
Of course you have no control over some outside noise but you do have control over how you shut that out. You could opt for ear plugs which are a great way of reducing noise. Remember though to choose ones that are comfortable as I have found some really do hurt my ears.
Listen to Relaxing Music
As well as yoga you could opt to listen to some relaxing music. This could be the waves on a beach, rain on a tin roof, it really doesn’t matter just as long as it helps you relax. You will find though you may fall asleep to the music.
Use Your Bedroom for Sleep
What I mean here is that you don’t watch TV or work in bed! Eliminate all activities that don’t contribute to you having a good night’s sleep. Also make sure your bedroom is a sanctuary, it’s a place you can relax. So declutter and don’t have piles or washing or ironing near you – otherwise you will be worried about getting it done! You should eliminate activities from the bedroom that aren’t sleep related.
Having a bedtime routine is so important. In fact I have a dedicated post all about creating an adult bedtime routine. Having a routine can dramatically improve your chances of a good night’s sleep. Head over to read my post on my top tips and what my bedtime routine looks like.
Get Rid of Distractions
You could opt for an eye mask which will eliminate any sensory issues you may experience. The eye mask will eliminate light, the ear plugs will eliminate noise but what about your alarm in the morning? You could instead opt for a white noise alarm clock. This white noise machine/alarm clock is idea as the sounds include Ocean Side, Rain, Rain Forrest, Summer Night, Tide and White Noise. With features such as a programmable sleep-to-music timer, crescendo wake up control, digital volume controls for radio, this smart piece of kit is amazing. White noise is great for getting rid of any unwanted noise in the background and it helps you get to sleep too. I remember when my eldest son was born, he loved the sound of white noise and he often feel asleep to it too.
I have touched on lifestyle choices above and another one is the amount of caffeine you drink. If you can refrain from taking any after 5pm, it will give your body a chance to start to relax and have you sleeping. Caffeine is a stimulant and you don’t want that too close to bed time. Remember it’s not just coffee that has caffeine in it, tea and some soft drinks too so know what you are drinking.
Avoid Eating Late
Having a large meal late a night is a nightmare for when it comes to bed. I have done this and getting to sleep just doesn’t happen. My body is just so warm because it is trying to digest the large meal that I scoffed not long before. I would recommend staying clear of a heavy meal close to bedtime.
Another lifestyle choice. Exercise is great for sleep. Studies have shown that if you exercise on a daily basis you will improve the quality of your sleep. I have to agree, since starting my 10,000 steps a day my sleep has improved and the quality is great. So why not try and get your 10,000 steps a day, you can do this with walking. Don’t worry about running!
Recap: Sleeping Tips for Light Sleepers
I really hope the above tips help you get through the night with a great sleep and waken up refreshed. I think my light sleeping habit came from ears of listening out for my two boys in case they woke up needing me. Not matter what your reason is for being a light sleeper I want to help you. so I’ve popped a recap below to help you achieve a restful sleep:
- Use an eye mask to block out light, earplugs to block out noise and white noise alarm clock for relaxing noises.
- Keep your electronics out of the bedroom.
- Keep your bedroom temp to under 70F.
- Use natural sleep remedies to help deepen sleep.
- Go walking daily.