- Casey Hamm
- May 8, 2015
If some of you just read that title and said “Sleep? What’s that?” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” then this article may be exactly what you need to read for a better night’s rest.
More and more studies are revealing that sleep is prevalent to your overall health (including life span!), your productivity and how your brain continues to develop and function.
Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from pressure at work and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as layoffs, relationship issues or illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive….if not at a minimum dosage for so many!
Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep.
The Mayo Clinic has put together key tips to a better night’s sleep:
- Keep a Sleep Schedule
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. There’s a caveat, though. If you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing i.e. soft music, mediation or using some essential oils like lavender or bergamot.
- What You Eat and Drink Matters
Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Create a Bedtime Ritual
Similar to number one, do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
This is important: Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. More and more research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.
- Get Comfy
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, ear plugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Your mattress and pillow can contribute to better sleep, too. Since the features of good bedding are subjective, choose what feels most comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure there’s enough room for two. If you have children or pets, try to set limits on how often they sleep with you — or insist on separate sleeping quarters (we know this can be tough but try it out and see what comes your way… perhaps so more ZZZs)
- Limit Day Naps
Long day naps can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you choose to nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes and make it during the midafternoon….some research suggests that 20 minutes is the magic number!
- Exercise Recommended
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Timing is important, though. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep. If this seems to be an issue for you, exercise earlier in the day.
- Manage Stress…But Really!
When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep is likely to suffer. To help restore peace, consider healthy ways to manage stress. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Give yourself permission to take a break when you need one.
Share a good laugh with an old friend, look into yoga or meditation, and hold, whatever stress relieving ritual, sacred! Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.
Know when to contact your doctor
Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
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