Tips for Winding Down and Preparing for Sleep
As our bodies prepare for sleep, a hormone called melatonin is released causing us to become drowsy. This sleep hormone is largely based on light and is released in dark and suppressed in bright conditions. In preparing for sleep, we want to take full advantage of this natural process in our body and create an optimum environment for this process. The following tips will help you optimize the transition between your awake state to sleep.
A comfy bed is condusive to great sleepCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wnorrix/Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wnorrix/
4 Tips for Better Sleep Tonight
- Turn down the lights 1 hour prior to sleep: Because melatonin is released in the dark, turn down lights 1 hour prior to sleep to promote melatonin release. If possible, try to keep your room as dim as possible.
- Turn off TV's and stop computer use 30 minutes prior to sleep: Although this might be an extremely difficult proposition, turning off the TV and computer (which both produce a lot of light and stimulation) will help you get into a relaxed state. Instead, try some light reading or listening to relaxing music.
- Make sure all auxiliary lights are turned off or covered: Do you have blinking lights in the room from your computer or other peripheral devices? You may not notice the brightness of these lights, but when all the other lights are out, you'll notice how bright these lights really are. Cover them up with tape so you don't have any light leaking out. Remember, you're creating a room conducive to sleeping. This means getting your room as dark as possible.
- A nice warm shower: As our bodies prepare for sleep, our body temperature lowers. If you shower at night, this is a great time to encourage your body's natural process. Aside from feeling clean and comfortable in bed, taking a nice warm shower prior to sleep temporarily raises your body temperature but after you get out of the shower, you'll immediately start cooling down to your body's desired sleeping temp.
Note that there are 2 school of thoughts on this subject. One is to take a warm shower, and the other is to take a cold shower. From my experience, I find that taking a warm shower helps me fall asleep better than taking a cold shower. My own explanation to this is when we take a cold shower, although our body feels colder, our body fights to raise our body temperature instead of lowering it. Try both and see what works best for you. Either way, I do not recommend going extremely hot or extremely cold. Be smart about it!