Lack of sleep can have far-reaching health implications as well as being annoying and leaving you tired for the next day. For years, I had issues sleeping. If I got more than 4 hours a night I was doing good. Something had to be done.
I did some research as to some possible things I could try to improve the situation. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I tried any suggestion I came across. In the end, I found six things that actually worked over time and drastically improved my sleeping patterns. I am proud to say that I am able to sleep for at least 7 hours a night now. I have more energy and am definitely healthier for it. Here is what I helped me reap the benefits of a peaceful night’s sleep.
- How much sleep do you need? We are usually advised to get 8 hours of sleep a night but not everyone needs this amount. Some people work best on 6 or 7 hours while others need 9 or 10. Work out what your optimum sleep time is and then make sure you get it on a regular basis.
- Establish a bed-time routine that you follow every night. This routine is a winding down process that ensures you are relaxed and ready for sleep. Different things work for different people but some of the more common activities that people use include a warm shower (not hot as this is too stimulating); a warm drink, especially milk as it has a sedative effect; meditation; listening to soft, calming music; reading a quiet book (not a suspense thriller); gentle stretches to remove any tightness in your muscles; breathing exercises.
- Make sure your diet isn’t keeping you awake. Some foods have a heating effect on the body and these can affect your sleep. Make sure you eat your last meal of the day several hours before you go to bed, to give your body a chance to start the digestion process. Have a light snack half an hour before bed if you are hungry. Your body needs the correct, nutritionally-balanced diet to function properly, so you need a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, lean protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates. Limit fast food and foods that contain high amounts of fat or sugar. Try eating 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big meals, especially if you are not able to have your evening meal well before bed time. Keep your body hydrated by drinking a glass of water every hour through the day. Limit sodas, caffeine drinks and alcohol.
- Get enough exercise each day. You will sleep better when you have been active through the day. For optimum health and wellness we need to have 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. If you can’t find the time to exercise, aim for a short brisk walk during your lunch break each day. Research has found that morning is the best time to exercise for people with sleep problems. Learning yoga or tai chi can be a great help as these ancient arts teach control of mind and body as well as breathing exercise which aid relaxation.
- Learn to manage stress. Stress is a major reason why many people can’t fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. There are numerous strategies and methods for stress management; you can attend a course or find excellent research on the internet. Stress often means that you find it hard to still your mind when you go to bed and this stops you falling asleep. Keep a notebook and pencil beside your bed and write down any thoughts that come into your mind when you are in bed. Your notes will help you remember what you were thinking for the next day.
- Plan the next day. As part of your bedtime routine, you could write a to-do list for the next day. This allows you to sort out what you needs to get done so that it won’t be on your mind as you are falling asleep. If you find this unsettling, do it before dinner or before you leave work. Prior planning allows you to clear your mind of work-related thoughts and allows you to rest better.
Give yourself the best chance of consistently getting a good night’s sleep by ensuring that your bedroom is quiet and calming. Approach each night with a positive attitude and, with the help if these strategies for getting more sleep, enjoy the benefits of a good night.
So, have you ever had issues sleeping? What things have you tried?