Five Ways to get Better, Deeper Sleep
|By Elizabeth Gursecki, Staff Writer on Friday, December 16, 2011|
|Getting a good night||
Do you know if you’re getting the right sleep? When you wake up in the morning and you feel energized, focused and in good mood, these are good signs that you slept well. Now if you’re feeling the exact opposite - lethargy, lack of energy, inability to focus and grumpiness, it’s obvious that you didn’t get enough shut-eye. Even if you’re snoozing for long hours, it’s still possible that you don’t wake up refreshed the next day. Sometimes, it’s not just about the quantity but quality as well. So what do you do about it? Here are five ways to get better and deeper sleep.
Tip # 1 – Be in sync with your circadian rhythm
Keeping a regular sleep schedule is the first item on your list of things to do. It’s easy to get back in sync with your circadian rhythm or the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Various studies have shown that you’d feel a lot more refreshed if you sleep and wake up at the same time each day than if you sleep the same number of hours but at different times. In short, consistency is the key.
Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Choose the hour of the night when you’re usually tired so it doesn’t take you too long to doze off. Don’t break off the routine even on weekends when you would be tempted to stay up late because you don’t have work the next day. If you want to change your bedtime schedule, do it slowly at small increments such as ten to 15 minutes earlier or later every day.
Strive to wake up at the same time each day. When you start waking up at the same time every day, this means you’re getting enough good quality sleep. That’s because when you’re in sync with your circadian rhythm, you won’t need an alarm.
Tip # 2 – Stimulate manufacture of melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm. Production of this hormone is triggered by exposure to light. Darkness stimulates the secretion of melatonin, signaling your brain that it’s time to rest and thus you feel drowsy and sleepy. The thing is, many modern activities disrupt the production of melatonin. One example is the use of electronic gadgets before going to bed. The light from these gadgets keep the brain stimulated and inhibit the release of melatonin.
To counter this effect, it’s a must to impose an electronic curfew at least an hour before going to bed. Shut off everything from the television to the computer to the iPad. You may leave your music player on so you can listen to soothing music but be sure to keep the room dark so the melatonin can do its job.
Other than that, it would also help to increase light exposure during the day. In the early morning when you go out, remove your sunglasses and hat. Allow as much light to get in your home or workspace during day time. If you’re living in a place where days are shorter than the nights, use a light therapy box.
Tip # 3 – Create a relaxing sleeping environment and routine
Sleep with more ease by making your bedroom conducive to rest. One obvious way to do that is to keep the noise levels down. If you live in a neighborhood where beeping cars and loud neighbors are part of your everyday existence, mask the noise by using ear plugs or playing music or other white noise.
The right temperature is also important. A slightly cool room of about 65° F or 18° C will give you good quality sleep. Have enough ventilation too. As for the bed, make sure it’s comfortable so you don’t wake up with a sore back. Before going to sleep, engage in relaxing bedtime rituals like reading a book or magazine, taking a warm bath, doing some stretches or listening to soft music.
Tip # 4 – Eat healthy and get moving
Diet and exercise also affect sleep. It’s best to stay away from big meals at night. If you can eat earlier in the evening, that would be great. You must also watch what you eat. Consuming heavy, rich and fatty foods is not advisable particularly within two hours of bedtime. These take a lot longer to digest so you might find it hard to sleep. If you’re prone to acidity, limit intake of spicy and acidic foods at night to avoid heartburn and stomach pain.
Exercise also helps induce good quality sleep. The premise is this: the more active you are, the more sugar you burn, the more sleep-inducing chemicals released, the better your sleep will be. Just be careful not to exercise too late in the evening as this will counter the positive effects.
Tip # 5 – Stay away from unhealthy habits
Drinking alcohol or coffee before sleep is never a good idea. Many people make the mistake of thinking that alcohol makes them sleep better. While it’s true that it makes you drowsy, it reduces the quality of your sleep. Caffeine can also cause sleep problems so it’s better to cut back on your intake or drink coffee only in the morning. Here’s another good reason to quit smoking. Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarette, is a stimulant that can disrupt the sleep.
All these tips will help you get deeper and better sleep so you’ll wake up refreshed and rejuvenated the next morning.
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