The more we about sleep the more we have come to realise how central it is to our general health and wellbeing. In the past sleep was seen as a way of ‘recharging the batteries’ but as scientists uncover the reasons that we sleep they have expanded our understanding of this fundamental phenomenon. We now know that sleep plays a vital aspect in a huge range of different physiological and mental functions, from our memory to our appetite, from our moods to our ability to heal, sleep is critical in all of these and more.
That is why it is so important that we sleep well each and every night. While some people do not struggle with sleep, many of us do. We find it hard to get to sleep, we feel like we never get enough sleep, we feel constantly tired. For those people, here are some tried and true tips that may help you sleep better.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule: the body clock regulates our sleep wake cycle. As with any ‘clock’, it works to a strict routine. If you want to sleep well you should try to stick to the same sleep schedule every day as this helps the body clock. The more you vary the times you go to bed and get up (looking at your weekend), the more your body clock will struggle. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up around the same time will make it easier to get to sleep.
2. Make your bedroom into a sleep environment: the bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible. New research has shown that even the standby lights on electronic devices can interfere with sleep so make sure that there are no lights in your room. If you cannot make your room as dark and quiet as you would like you can always get an eye mask and ear plugs.
3. Avoid certain foods and drinks: while some foods and drink types are great for sleep, others are terrible and should be avoided. Caffeine and alcohol are the two worst drinks, while junk foods and spicy foods are the worst foods. Avoid consuming these at night and you will sleep better.
4. Read in bed: many people read in bed before they go to sleep. A lot do it as a form of entertainment but there is also another good reason to read in bed. It is a brilliant way of relaxing, of distracting yourself from the stresses of the day and focusing on a story. Reading a book is a great way of tuning out and getting the brain ready for sleep.
5. Organic sheets: the word organic has been bandied around a lot lately, but organic sheets can really help. The cotton crop is one of the most heavily sprayed out of all the commercial crops and human skin is extremely absorbent. Many people who have made the change to organic cotton sheets have found that they sleep far better than they ever did in the past.
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