In order to help my patients with insomnia, I’ve developed a step-by-step adult sleep training guide that I’m going to share with you. If you want to set a new sleep habit, you’re going to have to do this for at least fourteen nights.
First, you need a relaxing bedtime routine.
This should start at dusk – that’s when any digital blue light exposure will delay your melatonin production. This means no computer work or TV after dusk, for at least for fourteen nights straight. After that, you can use blue-light-blocking glasses if you must have screen time.
Then, you need to tell your brain – specifically your hypothalamus – that it’s time to go to sleep.
A hot bath before bed can help you relax. Add Epsom salts for even more muscle relaxation. Some calming essential oils like lavender can help trigger your brain chemistry to wind down. Get in your comfy pajamas, then curl up in bed and read a book or magazine. Don’t read the news or scroll social media! You need to focus on something relaxing.
Perhaps you can add journaling into your nighttime routine. I like to record my reflections from the day; I write down any insights and good things, or count my blessings on paper. When I say “journal,” I’m not talking about writing down to-do lists! Don’t get your brain revved up in bed. If you must create a to-do list for the next day, do it right after dinner and before you start your bedtime ritual. Don’t bring your worries into bed!
Next, turn off all the lights.
Your bedroom must be completely dark. This means no lights in your bedroom whatsoever. No digital lights, no night lights, no TV. Light interferes with melatonin production, and if you’re having sleep issues, you can bet your melatonin production is not optimal.
Your hypothalamus controls your sleep cycles. And if you have any lights on at night, you’re effectively telling your hypothalamus that it’s daytime. So your hypothalamus does not trigger your pineal gland to make adequate melatonin to keep you asleep.
Next, be sure your room temperature is just right.
Your hypothalamus needs to be signaled that it’s nighttime by an adjustment of temperature too. Your bedroom temperature should be between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler and you’ll be cold and have trouble sleeping. Any warmer and you won’t be able to sleep deeply. A cool bedroom temperature is especially important for pregnant women and nursing moms, perimenopausal and menopausal women, and men going through andropause (the male equivalent of the change of life). If you’re consistently cold at night, consider getting your thyroid function checked.
Use ambient noise to lull yourself into a deep sleep.
A white noise machine will do. Ask yourself, what makes you most relaxed – the sound of ocean waves, rainfall, a fan? Find that sound and let it play for eight hours. Preferably use a battery-operated sound machine. Sleeping by a digital device that is on and connected to the internet can seriously disrupt sleep. Also, studies show that the health of your brain cells can be adversely affected.
What if you wake up in the middle of the night?
If you’re having trouble staying asleep, remember that getting out of bed, checking your phone, turning on lights, or doing anything outside of your bed reinforces awakeness. If you have to go to the bathroom, keep the lights off, and do so with the least amount of stimulation.Then return to your cozy bed and go right back to sleep.
What if you can’t go back to sleep? If this is the case, it’s important to learn a relaxation technique to put yourself back to sleep. I recommend my go-back-to-sleep exercise, which I’ll walk you through:
- First be sure your pillow is in a good position and your pajamas and bed covers are comfortably situated. Lie flat on your back.
- Then, slowly contract your body one part at a time from your feet to your head. The key is to contract each part very consciously. All your attention should be telling that part of your body to contract and hold the contraction. First contract your feet, then your lower legs, upper legs, buttocks, belly, back, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, face, squeeze your eyes shut. Hold the contraction of your entire body for 3 seconds.
- Very slowly relax one part at a time from your feet up to your head, and breathe.
- Repeat the contraction/relaxation wave twice.
If you are not able to reset your sleep cycles with these techniques in 14 days, then definitely consider supporting your hypothalamus.
Your hypothalamus needs specific nutrients to do its job correctly. Besides controlling your sleep cycles, your hypothalamus controls all your hormones, your immune system, and your neurological system. So if it’s not getting what it needs to keep you alive and healthy, your sleep may be affected. I recommend Genesis Gold® with extra Sacred Seven® amino acids for my toughest insomnia cases. It may take three months to fully reset your sleep cycles, so be patient. If you’ve been stressed for years, it’s going to take hypothalamus support and sleep training to restore healthy sleep habits.
If you have any questions regarding sleep training, please join us in our Hormone Support Group, which you can when you sign up for my free Hormone Reboot Training below.