A good night’s sleep will not only refresh you and lift your mood but it will increase your energy, your productivity levels and can even help with weight loss due to its effect on hormone regulation. But how can you ensure that you get a good night in the first place?
1. Limit Caffeine
Caffeine is a drug and a stimulant; it is known to reduce fatigue and can really perk you up. When you have a coffee or a caffeine based drink, it will enter into your bloodstream through the stomach and start affecting you within 15 minutes. Your heart rate will increase and you will feel much more alert. It is known that these effects will stay with you for up to six hours, although everyone metabolizes caffeine at different speeds.
If caffeine is part of your diet then try to limit your intake at least six hours before you go to bed. Remember, caffeine can be found in varying amounts in not just coffee but in green teas, soft drinks and energy drinks and chocolate as well.
Had a tough day? Feeling stressed? A couple of drinks will help you switch off and relax, right? No! Quite the opposite in fact. The alcohol itself might make you feel tired but when it comes to sleeping it will interfere with your natural sleep patterns and reduce the number of hours spent asleep.
Alcohol affects the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) portion of your sleep. It is this section of your sleep cycle that provides rest and recuperation and allows you to wake feeling refreshed. If you drink even a moderate amount of alcohol then you will only have one or two REM cycles rather than the usual six to eight.
3. Switch Off
Electronic devices like smart phones, tablets, and lap tops can stimulate your brain and make it hard to sleep so make sure do not use these devices too close to bed time and definitely not while you are in bed. The same is true of TV – instead of relaxing and falling asleep naturally, you may be tempted to stay awake and watch the end of whatever program being shown. Make your bedroom a technology-free zone if you want to sleep as well as possible.
How many times have you heard people say that they are not going to exercise because they are too tired? Exercise will actually have quite the opposite effect due to the chemical reactions that take place in the body when training. It is the rise and subsequent fall in these chemicals that will allow you to sleep more soundly. However intense exercise just before bedtime may leave you overstimulated and lead to disrupted sleep patterns so make sure you finish you’re an hour or two before you are due to go to sleep.
5. Get into a Routine
One of the best ways to get better at sleeping is to set yourself a routine and stick to it. It works for kids and yet many adults do not follow this simple but effective sleep principle. Make sure you go to bed at around the same time every evening to develop better sleep habits and retire around eight hours before you are due to wake up to ensure you are getting your proper amount of sleep.
6. Keep cool
Keeping cool can help you sleep better so consider turning down the AC or losing a blanket or two. The ideal room temperature is believed to be 60 to 70 degrees and while this may feel too cool initially, you should find that you soon get used to it and sleep better as a result. Also make sure your bedroom is as dark and as quite as possible as both light and sound can interfere with restful sleep.
7. Get Comfortable
It goes without saying that if you are not comfortable then you won’t sleep. Make sure that you have a supportive mattress and that you are able to maintain the natural curves of your spine with the pillows that you use. Mattresses should be turned regularly and changed every 8 – 10 years. Space is also an important consideration. Can you easily move around and stretch? Are you wearing restrictive clothing? Even a little discomfort can play havoc with your sleep.
8. Manage Stress
Residual stress from the day or even anger can make it tricky to sleep. Try to think about something nice that has happened to you during the day or something that went well so fill your mind with positive, relaxing thoughts. Read a book, try some meditation or simply listen to and focus on your breathing to help melt stress away so you can fall asleep more easily.
If you are deficient in certain minerals then this will affect your sleep. Magnesium is found naturally in nuts and green leafy vegetables. However we still don’t always ingest enough of these nutrients. Magnesium will help to relax your muscles and have a calming effect on your central nervous system. Transdermal magnesium therapy is a recognized technique used in oriental medicine to reduce insomnia and induce a good night’s sleep although oral supplements are more common. Try 400mg before going to bed to see if it helps you sleep.
10. Know when to see a Doctor
If you have tried all of these tips and you still have trouble sleeping, then maybe it’s time to seek out professional help. Having problems falling asleep, waking up unrefreshed, falling asleep at inappropriate times or suffering with frequent morning headaches can all be caused by treatable underlying medical conditions so consult your doctor who may be able to refer you to a sleep lab.
Sleep is when your body repairs and recovers and too little sleep can be the cause of difficulty losing weight, poor results from exercise, depression and other otherwise avoidable problems. While you can get by on less inadequate sleep, that doesn’t mean you should so take sleep as seriously as diet and exercise if you want to maximize your energy and your health.