Do you have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. In fact, lack of sleep is considered a global epidemic. In North America for instance, one-third of the population reports they regularly get insufficient sack time. If you want to know how to sleep better, follow this guide and wake up feeling more refreshed.
A Few Basic Facts
• For a good night’s slumber, health experts recommend that adults should get between seven and nine hours to function at an optimum level. The exact amount you need is something you can determine based on how you feel.
• Sleep problems are common. Prevalent conditions including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and apnea affect nearly half the world’s population. Many of these problems are underdiagnosed or undertreated.
• Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other medical conditions.
How to Sleep Better
If you experience a pattern of regularly interrupted sleep, it may be time to visit a sleep clinic. But for occasional trouble falling asleep or bouts of restlessness, give these remedies a try:
1. Avoid using electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime
Electromagnetic frequencies from a computer, TV, or smartphone can disrupt the brain’s pineal gland. This key organ is responsible for regulating wake/sleep cycles. As well, blue light emitted by your computer and phone interferes with the production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
2. Allocate 30 minutes of ‘worry time’ two or three hours before bed
Make a list of your concerns from the day, then decide on solutions. Or defer the issue to a specific date after that. Put your worries to bed first!
3. Be wary of negative messages you tell yourself
Change them to more constructive thoughts. If you tell yourself that you wake up every two hours, change that. Instead, tell yourself that your body is getting all the rest it needs. Lie still, close your eyes, and avoid looking at the clock as you reinforce yourself with positive thoughts.
4. Keep a regular schedule
The body works at its optimum when it follows a regular routine. Waking at the same time every day is especially crucial if you’re up late the night before. If you are up later than usual, the lack of sleep can help you fall asleep quickly the next night, and stay asleep.
5. Create calming rituals
Use these rituals to alert the body that it’s time to get ready for bed. Start gearing down about an hour before bedtime. Try some low lighting, a hot bath, relaxed reading, or quiet conversation, for example.
A bedtime meditation to prepare for sleep
6. Release stress throughout the day
During the day we’re bombarded by all kinds of stimuli that lead to mental and physical tension, however subtle. To prevent tension from taking hold, find ways to move, stretch and breathe. Try these easy deep breathing exercises. In addition, progressive muscle relaxation is an invaluable way to free up your body.
7. Monitor what you eat and drink
Foods that are high in sugar or fat content cause your blood sugar level to spike, then drop. If consumed in the evening, that can trigger an adrenaline surge overnight and wake you up. Similarly, avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. A light meal eaten between 5-7 p.m. is ideal for a restful night. Also, eat healthy, sleep-friendly snacks.
8. Exercise caution using medications
Prescribed or over-the-counter medications can affect your body’s rhythm, so short-term use is best if possible. That includes taking such natural sleep remedies as melatonin and valerian.
9. Avoid emotional upset in the bedroom
Negative energy of any kind should be kept out of the bedroom because it can severely disturb the calming effect that the room should have. Before retiring for the night, release emotions with this seven-step exercise.
10. Keep a sleep journal
What happens during the day often affects what happens at night. The purpose of a sleep journal is to link the two to see how your shut-eye is directly affected. Record such details as eating and drinking habits, worries that linger during the day, exercise habits, and any unusual or unexpected situations.
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
That bespectacled font of wisdom Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Maybe he was on to something. Try it (and the tips in this post) and you might be, too!
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