Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our health and well being other. Here are five ways to improve your sleeping habits beyond just getting a comfortable mattress:
- Make your room as dark as possible for optimum sleep. Invest in blackout curtains or shades for your bedroom window and close them tight each night. Ensure your bedroom door is closed and any lights outside the door are turned off. You may wish to wear an eye mask if your curtains still let a bit of light in. If you have a clock radio or other electronic gadgets that give off light or a faint glow, make sure they are turned off or covered up. Even a tiny point of light in your room can upset your ‘inner clock’ and disrupt the pineal gland from making serotonin and melatonin. These chemical compounds are essential for sleep. If you need to visit the bathroom during the night use a torch or a very low light. Even low light can pass via your optic nerve to the brain’s hypothalamus, which in turn controls your internal clock. Light sends a signal to your brain that it is waking up time and prepares your body for doing just that.
- Your eating and drinking habits can have a large effect on your ability to sleep well. Don’t go to bed straight after a large or heavy meal. Try to eat at least three hours before going to bed. However, eating a high protein snack before bed can actually aid sleep as it produces the necessary L-tryptophan that your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Also, a small piece of fruit helps the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier. Avoid snacks before bedtime that are high in sugars or grains as they will raise your blood sugar levels and delay sleep. Don’t drink any fluids within two hours of bedtime, as this will eliminate any need to visit the bathroom during the night or at least reduce the frequency of visits.
- Keep your bedroom temperature around 18 degrees Celsius. Many homes have bedroom temperatures warmer than this, which will hamper sleep, as the optimal temperature for sleep is moderately cool. If your room is hotter or cooler it can lead to a restless night’s sleep. As you sleep, your body temperature drops, reaching its lowest levels after approximately four hours. It is therefore believed that a cooler room is the best way to get a good night`s sleep as it imitates your natural internal temperature drop.
- Wind down before bedtime. Put away any work and stop any chores at least an hour before bed giving your mind the chance to unwind and forget about any deadlines or work related issues. Don’t watch TV immediately before bed as it can stimulate your brain and impair your pineal gland function. Instead, listen to some soothing music including specially compiled relaxation CDs. Read something uplifting or spiritual rather than a stimulating thriller novel.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Go to bed early and try to maintain the same bedtime every night. Your waking time should be the same every day too. This helps to get your body into a sleeping rhythm, making it easier to not only fall asleep, but to wake up in the mornings. Try not to disrupt this pattern at weekends. Your bedtime routine can include deep breathing, meditation and using essential or aromatherapy oils. Find something that helps you to relax then repeat it every night, releasing the stress of the day and helping you to get a good night`s sleep.