Tips to Improve Sleep

There are many ways to improve your sleep to ensure a good night’s rest. Not only can you improve your sleep area, but by making a few changes in your lifestyle, you can improve you ability to achieve a good night’s sleep.The manner in which you use you bedroom can have a profound effect upon your ability to sleep well. A bedroom is our sanctuary; a calm place for us to relax.

Here are some tips to achieve a good night’s sleep:

Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. One’s bed should be used strictly for sleep to psychologically prepare oneself for sleep. If you want to watch TV or read, sit in a chair for those activities.

Keep the area dark:

Our body associates light with daytime and activity. If you find light disturbs your sleep, use heavy curtains on the windows, light reducing shades, or even an eye mask.

Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

An uncomfortable mattress may lead to back pain as well as a poor night’s rest. Replace mattress and pillows when there is no longer any support. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you.

Fresh air:

Fresh air is essential for a good night’s rest. Even in the winter, windows should be opened. Stuffiness can prevent your mind from shutting down and relaxing.

Temperature:

Hot stuffy rooms can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Your body cools slightly as you sleep. Using a fan or an open window can help to lower the room temperature and prepare you body for sleeping.

Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.

Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep – cool, quiet, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Also make your bedroom reflective of the value you place on sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions, including a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring, light, and a dry or hot environment. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise,” humidifiers, fans and other devices.

Dream pillow:

A dream pillow is a small sachet container filled with aromatic herbs. Lavender and jasmine are very calming and can help you to sleep. You can even place a few drops of essential oil on you pillow and the scent will lull you to sleep.

Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends.

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a “circadian clock” in our brain and the body’s need to balance both sleep time and wake time. It is important to keep a regular bedtime and wake-time, even on the weekends when there is the temptation to sleep-in.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.
A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Avoid activities before bedtime like working, paying bills, or engaging in competitive games. Some studies suggest that soaking in hot water (such as a hot tub or bath) before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep.

Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.

Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed.. Spicy foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty falling asleep and discomfort during the night. Try to restrict fluids close to bedtime to prevent nighttime awakenings to go to the bathroom. Some people find milk or herbal, non-caffeinated teas to be soothing.

Exercise regularly but complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.

In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. The National Sleep Foundation states that exercising right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult as our body temperature rises during exercise, and takes as long as 6 hours to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep. Finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can produce an alerting effect. According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, colas and chocolate, remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours.. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can help improve sleep quality.

Avoid nicotine (cigarettes, tobacco products).

Nicotine is also a stimulant. Smoking before bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep.. Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep, problems waking in the morning, and may also cause nightmares.

Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. Consuming alcohol leads to a night restless sleep.

If you have sleep problems…

Use a sleep diary and talk to your doctor. Note what type of sleep problem is affecting your sleep. Discuss the sleep diary with your doctor. There may be an underlying cause and you will want to be properly diagnosed. Your doctor will help treat the problem or may refer you to a sleep specialist.

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