If you want better sleep then read on, and learn how to catch some better zzzzz’s.
1 Optimize Your Bedroom For Sleep
Sleep can be somewhat elusive as we get older. Modern lifestyles mean we probably aren’t doing as much exercise as we should, or getting a lot of fresh air. We may be eating too late to feel comfortable, or drinking caffeine or alcohol to manage our alertness or relaxation levels.
Plenty of people (parents of young children especially) struggle to get a full night’s sleep, which in turn leads to being over tired the next day, when you don’t make the best choices for your health, and the cycle repeats. We compound this if our sleep environment isn’t conducive enough. Creating a comfortable and soothing bedroom environment can make sleep more enjoyable. Here are a few tips on how to make your bedroom sleep-friendly.
a ) Turn off all the lights:
Make sure the bedroom is dark- like really dark- whenever trying to sleep. Consider investing in blackout curtains or a sleep mask if there’s invasive light. Making the room dark will help improve the release of sleep hormones, melatonin. For this same reason, it’s a good idea to dim the lights some time before you go to sleep, and avoid using devices in bed, or just before bed.
b) Dampen any noises:
Do you live in a noisy neighborhood? If yes, consider investing in a white noise machine, a fan, or even better earplugs. Drowning the noises will make sleeping and staying asleep much more effortless. Sillicone earplugs are good for remaining in situ all night and dampening the noise of snoring, revellers passing by your windows, and birds heralding the dawn!
c) Keep the bedroom cool:
Make your bedroom cooler than other rooms. Experts recommend setting it a few degrees lower than usual to promote sleep. Sound weird? Well, you will be under a thick cover and toasty warm, so it’s a good idea to keep the air outside of the duvet fresh, then you shouldn’t get too overheated and dehydrated in the night.
d) Invest in a comfortable mattress and beddings:
How comfortable is your bed/mattress.? If not, then consider investing in a more comfortable and supportive bed. Read these customer reviews about Made Trade. Although a significant investment, going for the best quality bed can make your nights more enjoyable. Opt for a highly sprung mattress if you can afford it, the support is unrivalled in my opinion. And don’t forget your pillow! I bought an excellent memory foam pillow a couple of years ago and it has changed my sleep, my neck pain, and is still going strong. Best £45 I ever spent!
e) Valerian root and other similar supplements can be helpful to relax you and help you fall asleep. It could be worthwhile investing in some of these supplements. Be sure to investigate any possible contraindications you may have before taking these. Plenty of supplements don’t work well with conventional medicine, so please exercise caution. Taking a melatonin supplement is said to be very helpful in promoting good sleep.
- Have A Regular Sleep Schedule
Make a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This will help keep the circadian rhythm in check, making it easier to drift to sleep each time you hit the blankets. According to sleep experts, irregular sleep cycles can/do interfere with melatonin production. Inconsistent melatonin production translates to poor sleep cycles and sometimes no sleep at all. Keeping a consistent sleep cycle will also help the body regulate the production of hormones responsible for controlling sleep and wakefulness. Here are a few tips on how to keep a regular sleep schedule:
i.) Have a fixed wake-up time:
What time do you wake up every morning? Depending on your schedule, most people prefer to wake up at around 6 or 7 in the morning to prepare for work. Make this your daily wake-up time regardless of the day, and you will be surprised at how much more rest you get. Sleeping in on the weekend sounds like a good idea to catch up on missed sleep in the week, but sadly, this is a myth. It’s a much better and healthier plan to stick roughly to a sleep schedule of around 8 hours per night, than skimping in the week and ‘catching up’ at the weekend.
ii.) Allocate enough time for sleep:
The average healthy adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep every day. That said, you want to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep and not more than 9 for a healthy sleep cycle. It’s a good idea to plan your regular bed and wake times to ensure this as well as you can.
iii.) Make gradual adjustments to your sleep schedule:
If you have to adjust your sleep schedule to accommodate changes in your work times or travel, try not to do it abruptly, if at all possible. Little adjustments of say, half an hour to an hour gradually increasing over time, will enable your body to readjust quickly.
- Increase Your Exposure To The Morning Sunlight
Soaking in the morning sunshine not only improves your wakefulness but your quality of sleep at night. The natural morning sunlight helps reset the internal clock, enabling the body to cut down on melatonin production and trigger increased body activity. Resetting the circadian rhythm also helps activate other essential processes and functions as well.
The morning sunshine helps trigger increased production of cortisol while inhibiting melatonin in the process. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for increased heart rate and various other functions of the body. This explains why basking in the morning sunshine leaves you feeling energized, ready to take on the day’s events. Unknown to many, allowing the morning sunshine to soak in does help reduce sleep disturbances and improve your overall health. It also reduces the risk of sliding into depression later in the day. I’m sure we all know how that feels- the 3pm slump when only a sugary snack and a caffeinated beverage will do? Well, a little sun in the morning might just stave that slump off.
Add in a few exercises- stretches and maybe a little jog- in the morning, and most of your sleep woes will fade away.
According to research, the amount of morning sunshine one gets, translates to an equal number of restful sleep at night. In another study, researchers were able to determine that basking in the morning sunshine does help reduce stress and depression levels and contributes to good quality sleep at night. You, however, do not have to depend on the natural sunlight to experience these benefits; artificial light sources mimicking the sun’s spectrum do come in handy too. Consider investing in these to use during winter. A SAD lamp is truly a great invention for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and it is truly worth the investment. Add in Vitamin D to your supplement regime and you will be doubly protected from SAD.
Also, think about adding other aspects of self care to your routine, be that taking a soothing bath at bedtime, taking a walk in the morning, or adding meditation to your daily routine. The better you treat yourself in the day, the more likely it is you will get a great night’s sleep!