Anything that reduces stress or lowers tension, such as smells that remind you of a pleasant experience, may increase relaxation and improve sleep quality. Herbal teas, such as Celestial Seasonings® Sleepytime® tea can be gently sedating. A dark, quiet environment is extremely important. You may benefit from a silk or high quality eye mask. Linen sprays, such as those that have a calming scent, for example, lavender or light vanilla may be calming as well. Rituals at night, such as the same pattern of face washing, teeth brushing, darkening and quieting a room may also help to fall asleep. Reading before bedtime is sometimes stimulating, but many find it calming and sedating. Use your bed only for sleeping or intercourse. Using the bed as an office or a playground with small children may associate your bedroom with alertness.
Diet is also important. Try diets high in tryptophan, a natural amino acid that is used to produce mood-sedating compounds in the brain. Foods that are high in tryptophan include milk, peanut butter and turkey. Protein-deficient diets or those high in stimulating sugar and simple carbohydrates may actually reduce the quality of sleep, particularly in patients that are glucose-intolerant or hypoglycemic. Sweet desserts should be avoided after supper, as well as those that contain chocolate or caffeine. Avoiding food after 8:00 PM or 4 hours before bedtime helps improve gastric emptying, which prevents reflux or reflux-induced coughing during sleep.
Most importantly, getting a checkup from a healthcare professional is imperative to make sure there are no underlying medical problems, such as depression, thyroid disease or newly onset menopause. If a woman is overweight, she must seriously consider being assessed for sleep apnea. Even a woman with an ideal body weight may suffer from sleep apnea, particularly if she finds herself snoring at night or has been told by family members or loved ones that she snores. There are extremely successful treatments for sleep apnea that must be considered, as this condition can increase the risks of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and worsening obesity.