How to Get Better Sleep at Night
The amount of sleep you get each night is known to directly affect your mental and physical health as well as the quality of your waking life. The average person requires eight hours and you may think a few late nights a week won’t affect you, but add up all of those shaved off hours and they begin to take their toll. Not having a regular sleep routine can affect not only your productivity and daytime vitality but also your emotional well-being, heart and brain health and even your weight. Unfortunately, many of us don’t keep a good bedtime routine, or we regularly toss and turn at night, weighed down by stress, anxiety and other factors struggling to get the true amount of sleep we require.
Sometimes there may be a medical reason such as sleep apnoea, depression or restless legs syndrome that can lead to a bad night’s sleep and it’s important to consult your GP or sleep physician regarding your symptoms. For others, simply creating a good sleep practice by making small changes to your daily routines can have a major impact on just how well you sleep, leaving you feeling emotionally and mentally prepared for the day, refreshed and brimming with energy all day long.
For those who just want a good night’s sleep or to try something else before consulting a doctor, there are 8 tips you can add to your daily routine to help develop a better sleep hygiene and to enhance your mental and physical health.
Exercise – Exercise plays an important role in your overall well-being, and it can also help burn extra energy that is keeping you awake. Try to include some form of physical exercise in your daily routine. Try not avoid exercise 3-4 hours before bedtime or it may deter sleep. Exercise such as yoga or tai chi can be done closer to bedtime as it relaxes the body.
Diet–Try to avoid heavy meals at dinner. Aiming to not eat at least an hour before bedtime may help with falling asleep. If you need to snack, keep it to something light such as crackers. Try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. Alcohol may induce tiredness but can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle waking you in the night. Try a cup of warm milk or herbal tea before bed instead.
Environment – Try to keep your room as calming as possible to enhance chances of sleep; most often a cool, dark and quiet environment is needed. Eliminate exposure to light, if necessary use earplugs, sleep masks or add items to create a calming environment such a diffuser with essential oils. Before bed tries taking a warm shower or bath, meditate or use other relaxation techniques to encourage a better sleep.
Sleep Routine – Maintain a good bedtime routine. Aim for the recommended 8 hours and try to stick to a good schedule of going to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Try to alter this as little as possible; even on weekends. Routine is key for a good sleep-wake cycle. If it’s taking longer than 20minutes to fall asleep; try to do something relaxing such as a meditation, read or listening to soft music until you feel tired and try going to bed again.
Avoid Over napping – Are you someone who needs a midday kip? Try to avoid over napping; it’s recommended that no more than 20-30minutes is needed during the day, and try not to nap too late in the day. Over napping may affect your chances of falling and staying asleep later on.
Reduce Blue-Light Before Bed – Turning off phones, computers, tablets, clocks and the TV play a vital role in powering down when it comes to bedtime. Also, try to avoid using them during the night if you happen to wake. The blue-light sources may harm your chances of falling and getting back to sleep. Try to stop using them an hour before bed.
Reduce Stress –Stress and anxiety can be a major factor in being unable to get a good night’s rest. Perhaps write down your worries or hat needs tackling and set them aside for tomorrow. Think of ways time management could help reduce stress; or even try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi or mediation – there are some great apps around with guided meditations as short as 5minutes.
Know When to See Your Doctor –If you’ve tried everything and you’re still having trouble falling asleep and getting the recommended eight hours, consult with your GP as they may be able to assist with treatments or recommend a sleep physician.
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