Having a good night’s rest is essential. It rejuvenates and helps you to heal and unwind from the negative stresses and strains of the day. Unfortunately, a vast number of people cannot take advantage of the restorative properties of sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, between 50 and 70 million people in the US suffer from insomnia.
With this in mind, here are 10 tips that will help you to get the proper night’s rest you deserve.
Keep your waking-up time consistent
It is very tempting to sleep in over the weekend, especially if you’ve had a stressful week or haven’t been sleeping well. However, you cannot catch up on the sleep you have missed, and if you do sleep in, you may struggle to get back into your weekly routine.
If you keep your waking up time consistent, you’ll develop a rhythm, and breaking this can do more harm than good. Rather than sleeping in late, go to bed a bit earlier. Regardless of what time you rise, always try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, as this is the minimum recommended amount.
Take it easy on alcohol
Alcohol has a sedative effect, so it will keep you asleep for the first couple of hours. However, after this initial crash, you’ll frequently wake up and then fall back to a (probably) shallow sleep.
Also, alcohol has a depressive effect on the nervous system, which could leave you in a negative mood for the entire day. By all means, enjoy a glass of wine or two at dinner but don’t use it as a sleeping aid.
Put your phone away before bed
According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, the blue light that your smartphone or tablet emits can affect the quality of your rest. Studies found that blue light suppresses melatonin, the natural chemical that promotes sleep, pushing out circadian rhythms by three hours.
So, before you go to sleep, put your phone away.
On the subject of electronic devices, resist the urge to watch TV or study late at night. These activities will increase your levels of alertness, which will make it more difficult to fall asleep.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that induce a sense of well-being. That’s why you’ll often hear runners saying that they’re on a high after they’ve finished exercising. These endorphins also relax you, and this sense of relaxation will help you fall asleep and have a proper rest.
However, rather avoid exercising just before bed as this will serve to stimulate your body and brain. As a guideline, if you prefer to exercise in the afternoon, try not to do so too late, as those rushing endorphins can keep you up at night.
Don’t eat or drink just before bed
If you eat just before you go to bed, this could stimulate your digestive system and keep you awake. Instead, ensure that you have your last meal or snack a good two hours before you retire for the evening.
In the same vein, avoid drinking large quantities before bed. Going to sleep with a full bladder will cause you to wake up and disrupt your rest period.
Make your sleeping environment comfortable
If your bedroom is calm and peaceful, you won’t be disturbed during the night. Invest in dark curtains, a comfortable bed, and luxurious linen so that you look forward to bedtime. If you’re comfortable when you sleep, you’ll stay asleep for longer.
While lying in bed watching TV is enjoyable, it’s not conducive to good sleeping habits. Instead, move the TV to another room, so you’re not tempted to flick through the channels while in bed. Similarly, try not to work in bed, as this creates bad habits and changes a room where you are meant to relax into one of activity.
Do yoga before bed
Yoga is famed for relaxing your body and mind. There are some perfectly suited positions for practice before you go to sleep as these promote a good night’s rest.
Some of these poses are:
- Wide-knee child’s pose (balasana)
- Standing forward bend (uttanasana)
- Standing half forward bend (ardha uttanasana)
- Reclining bound angle (supta baddha konasana)
- Legs up the wall pose (viparita karani)
- Corpse Pose (savasana)
- Legs on a chair pose
Look into natural remedies
There are several natural remedies on the market that are formulated to promote better sleep. For example, CBD has been shown to promote better sleep as it reduces anxiety and pain, two of the major causes of keeping people up at night.
Valerian root is also famed for its sleep-inducing properties. A ‘sleep cocktail,’ which has become popular, is cherry juice (a natural source of melatonin) mixed with CBD and valerian root.
Limit daytime napping
Over the weekend, many people nap in the afternoon as a way to relax. However, this could be counterproductive as it could disturb your sleep cycles. Because you’ve already had a good rest during the day, you could find it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Cut out the nicotine
Nicotine is a stimulant that can mask feelings of exhaustion. Also, smoking can contribute to the development of sleep apnea, which is a disorder that disturbs sleep. This condition causes the soft tissue at the back of your throat – such as your soft palate – to collapse, and obstructs airflow. People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing for a period during the night, which causes them to wake up. So, if you want a good night’s sleep, cut out nicotine.
Sleep has numerous benefits. It keeps the heart healthy, reduces stress and inflammation, and improves your memory. To take advantage of these benefits, you need to ensure you get the best possible quality of rest. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving this goal.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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