Your sleeping habits at night have a lot to do with your activities during the day. What you think about, eat, and your physical environment will determine whether you get a good night’s sleep or not. Find out ways to improve your sleeping habits and get a better night’s sleep.
Here are 7 ways to improve your sleeping habits:
1. Relax your mind
Daily stressors, from work related issues, traffic nightmares, family drama, and the never-ending to-do list race through our minds when we finally get to bed. We might re-visit conversations or anticipate situations that cause us stress in the future. In order to make sure your mind is relaxed before you go to bed, set aside some time to slow down and unwind. Our bodies love regularity and routine (almost mindless routine – like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, etc.). Spend a few moments letting your body relax through meditation, yoga, or simply a quiet time.
2. Stick to a routine
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This regularity is crucial to quality sleep. Pick a time when you normally feel tired or sleepy. This helps prevent lying awake unable to sleep for hours. If you need to change your normal bedtime – do so gradually like 10-15 minutes earlier or later each night. If you’re getting the sleep your body needs, you should be able to wake up naturally without an alarm clock. If you’re still tired when your alarm does go off, then try going to bed 15 minutes earlier the next night. Try to keep this routine even on the weekends.
3. Watch what you eat
Some foods can give you a boost while others tend to make you sleepy. Avoid fatty foods or sugary higher carbohydrate foods closer to bedtime. Fatty foods are harder to digest and high-carb foods tend to give you quick energy. Certain decaffeinated teas or teas that contain Chamomile are better choices than soda or juice.
4. Avoid stimulants
Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco are stimulants, so avoid them several hours before bedtime. The effects of caffeine can last up to 12 hours; avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine after lunch. That afternoon cup of coffee or soda could be interrupting your sleep. Alcohol, although it may help you fall asleep, reduces sleep quality and can wake you up a few short hours after you’ve fallen asleep.
Caffeine: Some people even feel the effects of caffeine for up to twelve hours! If you have trouble sleeping, try avoiding caffeine after lunch.
Alcohol: Many people believe a nightcap helps them sleep, but research has shown that although alcohol might help you fall asleep, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol before bed.
Smoking: Nicotine is a stimulant and disrupts sleep. There are many reasons to give up cigarettes or chewing tobacco but getting a good night sleep is one of them. Tobacco users go through nicotine withdrawal at night, making it more difficult to sleep.
5. Exposure to light
Prior to the invention of the light bulb, humans have risen and rested with the sun. Although our daily lives have changed since the light bulb, our bodies have not. Melatonin is a hormone controlled by exposure to light. Your brain is designed to secrete more melatonin after sundown and less of it during the day. Long days in the office under artificial lights (away from natural light) disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. You can restore it with natural exposure to sunlight. Try to get out from under artificial light during the daylight hours – go for a walk during lunch, take off your sunglasses, or open the shades to let as much natural sunlight in as possible.
At night, dim the lights before you go to bed – you’ll trick your brain into thinking the sun is setting, which to your brain equals sleep time. No matter how relaxing it may feel to watch TV or check Facebook before bed, the blue light from the screen might keep you awake. When you look at a bright screen, your brain thinks it’s the sun and that it’s daytime. Turn off computers, the TV and your cell phone at least one hour before bedtime. Remember – it’s time to relax…the darker the better.
A dark environment helps your brain boosts melatonin production, preparing you for sleep. Light affects your brain even though your eyelids are closed. If you can’t black out your bedroom with curtains and blinds, try wearing an eye mask to block as much light as possible.
6. Remove the heat and noise
Besides darkness; your bedroom should also be a place that tells your brain it’s time to unwind and sleep. Try to eliminate the possibility of getting roused by loud noises. If you can’t avoid the noise, then try to drown out the noise. White noise from a fan, relaxing sounds, a sound-machine that produces rain or ocean sounds, or relaxing music can help set the stage for a good night’s sleep. If you live in a quiet area already, use these sounds to help you fall asleep but have them turn off after you’ve fallen asleep. A cool bedroom helps you doze off. The ideal temperature is considered to be around 65oF (18oC).
7. Can’t sleep? Get up!
If you can’t sleep and feel yourself getting frustrated, then get up. Don’t toss and turn for more than fifteen minutes, the anxiety it causes won’t help you relax and will keep up awake longer. Do something relaxing like reading a book or have a cup of tea but remember; keep the lights dim and avoid eating. Don’t go back to bed until you feel sleepy again.
Still can’t sleep? Medication May be Needed
If your new sleep routine still doesn’t give you the refreshing sleep you need after a few weeks, it might be time to visit your doctor to get help for a better night’s sleep. There may be an underlying medical issue that requires attention, such as insomnia.
Your doctor may prescribe any number of sleep aids including; Ambien (zolpidem), Belsomra (suvorexant), Lunesta (eszopiclone, Rozerem (ramelteon), Sonata (zaleplon), Silenor (doxepine), Halcion, Restoril, Xanax (benzodiazepines), Desyrel ( trazodone ) or Remeron (mirtazapine) for treating your sleeplessness and anxiety.
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