Rest Easy! 9 ways to help you sleep better
Lack of sleep and lack of good sleep are major players when it comes to health, energy and focus. During sleep the body experiences many of the processes necessary to replenish the immune, musculoskeletal and nervous systems and restore homeostasis. Sleep deprivation can manifest itself in many different ways, but the overall effect can be devastating to your health. Along with altered focus, aching muscles and headaches, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and even some types of cancer.
Here are some ways to help improve quality of sleep:
1. Exercise early in the day
Exercise is essential to sleeping well, however exercising late at night can cause sleep to come later than ideal as the body remains in a heightened state, with blood pressure remaining high and the mind in a more anxious state. Exercising ealier in the day (ie not within 2-3 hours of going to bed) can help with sleep.
2. No blue screens 1 hour before bedtime
The artificial light emitted from the TV, laptop or cellphone can alter the production of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone, delaying and altering the body’s sleep cycle.
3. No caffeine after 3 pm
Caffeine can take a long time to exit the body, up to 8 hours in some cases! Evidence shows that caffeine is a stimulant, meaining it can keep you from precious sleep.
4. Use you bed only for sleep (and well… you know)
Watching TV, eating or doing homework in bed can cause the brain to associate the bed with other activities besides sleeping, weaking the relationship between bed and sleep. Doing homework or studying in bed can even create a realtionship of anxiety with the bed which can overlap with bedtime.
5. Develop a calming night time routine
Doing something relaxing such as taking a bath or having a warm cup of tea help the body and mind to relax and unwind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
6. Avoid alcohol and tobacco
While alcohol and tobacco have numerous detrimental effects on the body in general, using them 3-4 hours prior to bed can alter the body’s sleep cycles. That glass of wine before bed, although thought to help you fall asleep, can prevent you from reaching the deepest levels of sleep and therefore upsetting sleep quality. The same goes for tobacco.
7. Write down your thoughts
Stress and anxiety are probably the most common reason for sleep deprivation. I have heard many clients say “I just can’t seem to shut off my mind.” My suggestion is to keep a note pad or journal on your bedstand and write down all those circulating thoughts or your mental to do list so that you have them all there in the morning to come back to.
8. Count sheep – actually!
This is one that I personally use if I am having a hard time sleeping… it is just so boring that I usually nod off after about 10 sheep.
9. See you doctor
If all else fails and you find yourself unable to sleep well for 2 weeks or longer, see your doctor to see if you are potentially suffering from a sleep disorder.