A Healthy Nights sleep
We all know that feeling. The alarm goes off, you reach out to hit snooze and the first word that comes out of your mouth is .... "eurrrrrgghhhh".
Waking up after a poor nights rest is something that will affect you all day long. You have to concentrate a little bit harder on making that first cup of coffee, you probably need an extra one too to get you going. You're first few hours will drag and then you'll feel that post lunch and post dinner crash even harder, when your body tries to convince you to have a snooze while it digests your food. Tiredness makes your brain crave sugar to keep it functioning so you'll be resiting the urge to not eat all that candy and chocolate, and the only one certainty is that when your head hits that pillow, it won't take long before your in a deep sleep and dreaming away.
Making sure you get a good nights sleep is absolutely key to a productive and positive day so here are 15 key ways that you can ensure you get as good a nights rest as possible.
1. Get Yourself Regular
One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.
2. Sleep When You Are Sleepy
Only try to sleep when you actually feel tired or sleepy, rather than spending too much time awake in bed.
3. Get Up And Try Again
If you haven't been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again. Sit quietly on the couch with the lights off (bright light will tell your brain that it is time to wake up), or read something boring like the phone book. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting, as this will wake you up even more.
4. Avoid Caffeine And Nicotine
It is best to avoid consuming any caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, choclate, and some medications) or nicotine (in cigarettes) for at least 4 to 6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
5. Avoid Alcohol
It is also best to avoid alcohol at least 4 to 6 hours before going to bed too. Many people believe that alcohol is relaxing and helps them to get to sleep at first, but it actually interrupts the quality of sleep.
6. Bed Is Just For Sleeping
Try not to use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use you're bed as a place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay bills, and other things, your body will not learn this connection.
7. No Naps
It is best to avoid taking naps during the day, to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can't make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is for less than an hour and before 3pm.
8. Sleep Rituals
You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep - some people find it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea.
Having a hot bath one to two hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shoes that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.
10. No Clock-Watching
Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time on your clock or watch) and reinforces negative thoughts such as "Oh no, look how late it is, I'll never get to sleep" or "it's so early, I have only slept for 5 hours , this is terrible."
11. Use A Sleep Diary
This worksheet can be a useful way of making sure you have the right facts about your sleep, rather than making assumptions. Because a diary involves watching the clock (see point 10) it is a good idea to only use it for two weeks to get an idea of what is going on and then perhaps two months down the track to see how you are progressing.
Regular exercise is a good idea to help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise in the 4 hours before bedtime. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed!
13. Eat Right
A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass of milk, which contains trytophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer.
14. The Right Space
It is very important that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eyemask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room.
15. Keep Daytime Routine The Same
Even if you have a bad nights sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is, don't avopid activities because you feel tired. This can reinforce the insomnia.
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