Do you want to sleep better? Here are 10 useful tips
We all need help from time to time to fall asleep. Instead of just taking a pill that can create a habit and lead to more sleep problems in the long run, try these tips for sleeping. One or more of them will surely help.
Have a hot bath
However, not hot enough to make you uncomfortable. The heat from the water relaxes the muscles and also causes the core body temperature to drop afterwards, which sends a sleep signal to the brain. This is great for kids too. However, it only works for bathrooms, not showers!
Get more light during the day
This sounds strange, but it is vital to get a good night’s sleep. Our brains are programmed to go to sleep when it is dark and wake up when it is light. Not getting enough light during the day will deprogram our biological clock. Once our circadian rhythm has been altered, our brain will not receive the sleep signal when we are ready to sleep.
Even if you work long hours, try going out in the sun for a bit at lunchtime. If you live in a part of the world that has short days in winter, install a bright light in your home and sit under it for at least 30 minutes. This should be enough to keep the biological clock running!
This is a good reason not to watch television in bed. Even if the show is boring, the bright flickering light from the TV screen will work against your natural sleeping patterns.
Don’t lie in bed and worry about not sleeping
This will only cause stress and make sleep even more difficult to achieve. If you start to worry about not sleeping, get up and make yourself a drink (not coffee!) Find something to read. Stay awake until you feel sleepy again and only then go back to bed.
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
This reinforces the natural biological rhythm and helps your brain send a sleep signal. It also reinforces a habit. Habits are an important part of sleeping better. Obviously you won’t be able to do this every night, there will be nights where you could go to a show or go out on the town with friends! However, if you manage most nights, this will still work fine.
Don’t go to bed until you are tired.
Yes, I know! This sounds like a direct contradiction of the advice above! The logic behind this is that if you are not sleepy, you will lie awake in bed and begin to worry about not being able to sleep. The most important part of all of this is getting up at the same time every morning no matter what time you went to bed the night before. Over time, you will feel very drowsy at your usual bedtime. Getting up in the morning when you are still tired is not easy to do, but it will help in the long run. Stay with it!
Keep a sleep diary
This, while quite tedious, will give you an excellent idea of your sleep patterns and will be a necessary record if you ever decide to visit a sleep clinic for help. Some people have done this and found that their sleeping problems went away on their own! A sleep diary should consider the following:
What you had for dinner
What drinks did you have after dinner?
Any nap taken during the day.
What time did you go to bed
How long did it take you to fall asleep?
If you woke up during the night
What time did you get up in the morning?
How you rated your sleep quality (1-10)
Any other observation
Do this every day for a few weeks and you should see a pattern emerging. This will give you invaluable information on your personal sleep habits and patterns.
Develop a nightly ritual.
Do the same things at the same time each night. This programs the unconscious mind that is preparing to sleep. Brush your teeth, take the cat out, check the door locks. Perform each step in the same order. It may seem simplistic, but it can work very well.
Get more exercise throughout the day.
Exercise relaxes the body and mind, as well as being good for your health and helping you lose weight. Even walking just 30 minutes a day will help. If walking isn’t your thing, try Yoga or Qigong. Both are calming and will completely relax you. If there are no classes near you, videos or CDs are readily available.
Practice muscle relaxation.
You can do this during the day or after bed. Practice tensing and relaxing each muscle group in turn, starting at the top of the head and gradually working up to the toes. This relaxes the body and also distracts it from any worrying thoughts while doing it. Visit the relaxation techniques page for some easy-to-follow techniques.
Write down your concerns before bed.
There is always something to worry about, right? These are the things that can keep you awake when your mind won’t let go. Solution? Have a worry time before going to bed. Think of all the problems that are currently in your life and write them down. Make the decision to do something about it the next day.
If you are tempted to think about any of those things while trying to sleep, just say to yourself, “okay, I’ve made a note of it and will handle it tomorrow.”