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10 proven tips for better sleep

24-03-2016

10 proven tips for better sleep

Many people underrate a good night’s sleep; just ask anyone the last time they had a solid seven to nine hours of deep sleep? The probable answer will be, "I can't recall" or "over the weekend." But do you know that a good night sleep helps to regenerate your body, mind and improves your health and immunity as well? It also decreases anxiety, stress and increases longevity, helps with weight management, improves cognitive function, elevates mood, and slows down aging process.

Therefore, sleep is essential in our daily lives. If you have been having difficulties falling asleep, you may have turned to sleeping pills or medications in search of more comfortable and restful slumber. However, these medications can have side-effects including dizziness, drowsiness, appetite fluctuations, headaches, abdominal discomfort and weird dreams.

You don’t need to keep off from sleep aids if you really need them, but before turning to the sleeping pills, try these ten tips to help you get a deeper and better night’s sleep.

Stick to a Regular Sleep/Wake up Time
Forming a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it is crucial when you are trying to get better sleep. If your bedtime keeps on fluctuating, your sleeping habit will be affected, and your health may suffer. Setting a regular and fixed schedule for night’s sleep helps your brain and body get used to sleeping and waking up at a fixed time every day. This kind of conditioning is crucial to achieving better and quality sleep that will be of great benefit to your emotional and physical well-being.

Your internal brain clock is set by rhythmic schedules of light and dark, day and night. If you set yourself to be going to bed and waking at the same time every day, you’ll be reinforcing your body responsiveness to these types of rhythms.

Select a time that suits your lifestyle and that which allows you to sleep for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. The key to better sleep is to have a consistent sleep time each day. It could take some time before your body adjusts to the new routine. If you are patient and persistent, you'll soon find that your brain and body is accustomed for a set bedtime, and you'll begin feeling sleepy as that time approaches. It could take several weeks before your body adjusts fully to the new routine and therefore, it’s important to be realistic so as to avoid expecting overnight miracles.

Eat Healthy Breakfast
Have a healthy breakfast energize your body so that it’s able to carry out day's activities with ease. Good and healthy breakfast helps you avoid snacks, some of which can interfere with your sleep. Eat your heaviest meal in the morning, go for moderation at lunchtime, and keep it light at night so that your body and brain can divert the focus from digesting to relaxing.

Go Outside
To get more sleep, you need more exposure to sunlight. The struggle to achieve better sleep seems never-ending for many people, making many people opt for medication. In 2012, The New York Times reported that more than 60 million American used sleeping pills prescription, up from 46 million people in 2006. But considering the potential threat these sleep meds pose, it’s better to consider natural alternatives, and one of the best natural alternatives is available just outside your house or window. Sunlight could be the cure for your insomnia.

Sunlight makes the brain stay awake and keeps the brain clock aware that it's day time. Unlike when you spend most of your times in an enclosed room, spending some time outside in the sun will help your brain clock to detect that it's daytime. However, there are some whose lifestyle or workplace does allow them to have time to get some light. But you can spare some time to get some natural light. For example, by taking your morning tea outside, or staying close to the window. Try to maximize the time that you spend in the natural light as much as possible. You can also opt to get some light before going to work. Research done by Discover Health suggests that exposure to the morning sunlight is linked to deeper and sounder sleep at night.

Regular Exercises
It has been said, and it will be repeated that exercise is good for sleep. Exercises have been found to improve sleep patterns. Exercises reduce stress, lift your mood, and also strengthen circadian rhythms; it can promote alertness during the daytime, as well as helping in sleep during the night. Regular exercises have been found to improve sleep for those people suffering from sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. A recent poll conducted by National Sleep Foundation found that people who exercised regularly got better and deeper sleep than those who were not physically active.

Various Researches also indicated that exercises improve not only the quantity of sleep, but also the quality. It has also been proven that daytime physical activity stimulates longer periods of the most restorative and deepest stages of sleep- Slow-wave sleep.

However, the impact of exercise on sleep might not bring a dramatic effect. It’s a gradual process that may take time. Therefore, you need to be patient.  For those already exercising, well done! Your regular exercises are helping to protect and improve the quality of your sleep. Conversely, good sleep can enhance your workouts as it’s during sleep time that your body rejuvenate and revitalize.

As we often learn, there’s no dramatic fix to sleep deprivation. And therefore, you need to be patient and persistent with exercise to realize its impact on your sleep. In this case, slow and steadiness win the race.

Nap Right
The secret to napping is having a good nap strategy. If you snooze during your siesta, your body can confuse napping with night sleep. The closer the siesta is to your bedtime, the harder it will be to keep up with the set sleep schedule. Scientist suggests that one should have a nap, at least, four hours to bedtime to keep sleep schedule disruption to a minimum.
A nap is important as it rejuvenates your body and improves your alertness. People who take siestas regularly seem to ward off daytime drowsiness better than people who never take a quick snooze during the day. However, it’s important to keep it short and sweet, and farther from when you actually retire to your bed. Just relax for 15 to 20 minutes.

Manage Stress
Stress impacts on your health, sleep, and overall well-being in a great way. To be real, most of us have had the experience where we just lay on the bed late at night, because of the invasion of thoughts brought by stress. Nevertheless, you don’t have to be a helpless victim to stress as there are several ways you can use to lower it to manageable levels. Having personal control over your life situations can help with stress management. Try all the stress management strategies and if you hit a rock in your pursuit to manage stress, take the non-obvious strategy of achieving more sleep. It will help to lower your stress level.

Set Up Your Bedroom Properly
The presence of disruptors in the bedroom can interfere with your sleep. Having these items in your bedroom can interfere with your rest:

Tech devices- if you eliminate anything with a screen from your restroom, you'll have a comfortable sleep. We're so connected to screen devices nowadays that they make our mind exceedingly busy. Smartphones, computers, tablets and sound items that emit blue light activates our brains and makes it hard for us to sleep. 

Business documents also distract sleep. Keep off your bills, papers, and to-do lists from your bedroom.

Stimulating artwork and colors- your bedroom shouldn’t have exciting artworks and shouting colors. It should have colors and arts that calm down your mind.

Also, keep your family and friends photographs and novels away from your bedroom.

De-Clutter Your Bedroom
When your bedroom has a lot of clutter, it will consciously or unconsciously affect your calmness of the mind in a way. When you mind is surrounded by clutter, it interprets that there is a task that needs to be completed.  Removing the clutter in your bedroom can unconsciously help you release tension and relax. Therefore, keep your bedroom clean, tidy and spacious.

Don’t Eat Late
You should eat two hours earlier before bedtime if you want to have better sleep. Eating too close to bedtime can make you experience discomfort and might interfere with your daily sleeping schedule. Have your supper early enough and avoid eating heavy diets that may require a lot of energy to digest.

Wind-Down in the Right Way
Having a buffer zone before bedtime can help you have a good sleep. Sort out any problems that you may have and convince your mind that everything is okay before going to bed. Set aside some time in the course of the day to go through your workout plan for the next day and your day’s activities. Try to avoid bright light one hour before bedtime. Find a relaxation technique that suits you. Exercising is fine, but it shouldn’t be conducted too late in the evening

Good and quality sleep is brought by a combination of different things that should be done consistently and for some time. The above tips to better sleep will help you have stable, deeper and sweeter sleep if followed well. However, if you find it extremely hard to sleep, consult your doctor. But before then, try to identify the cause of your sleep deprivation and use the natural sleep aids recommended above.

Further Reading
If you enjoyed this article you will find the below of interest:
How a bad night's sleep can ruin your working day
How sleeping with your phone is harming your life
How does stress affect how you sleep and work?


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