Millions of people have trouble getting enough soothing shuteye. With recent research linking lack of sleep to health problems from hypertension to weight gain, there’s more reason than ever to make over your sleep habits. But how?
You may have tried medication. You know you have to stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. And you’ve probably heard it’s not wise to exercise too vigorously or eat too big a meal a couple of hours before bedtime. Perhaps you’ve even tried to stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule.
Here, I offer some snooze tips you may not have heard before.
Anxieties often chase you in the still of the night. Dealing with them can help you sleep. Just writing down worries, deadlines or to-dos before hitting the pillow can make them feel more manageable.
Do whatever helps you relax like massage or yoga. Or while lying on your back, do muscle relaxation, tensing and then releasing body parts, beginning with your feet and progressing toward your forehead. Find yourself constantly yawning? Some experts say it may be linked to not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Deep-breathing exercises, in which you focus on taking long, deep abdominal breaths, may help relieve pent-up tension (and the yawns).
Make your bedroom more sleep friendly. If noise from the adjacent room keeps you up, move your bed to another wall. Replace your dirty mattress and pillows regularly. If you must keep a computer in the bedroom, cover the light on the monitor or AVR with a black electrical tape.
If you insist on falling asleep with the television on, use a timer.
Avoid bright light, which signals the brain to be alert. Make sure your bed is out of the way of direct sunlight, moonlight or streetlights. Consider blackout shades or an eyeshade to keep out early morning light, or use clips to hold curtains closed.
Help cement the sleep-wake cycle be exposing yourself to bright light within an hour of waking up for the day, either by taking a 30 minute walk outside or by lingering in a part of the house that gets a lot of sunlight.
If you can’t fall asleep in about 20 minutes, whether at bedtime or after awakening in the night, go into another room and do something else until you get drowsy.
The bedroom needs to be associated with sleeping, not with being restless. Estimate the 20 minutes; don’t use a clock or watch, which causes alertness or stress.
Avoid things requiring concentration, such as video games; stimulating activities, like exercise or cleaning; or anything upsetting, like watching the news or paying bills. Try reading or listening to music.
We rarely have a sleep that charges our whole body but through the tips mentioned above, your sleep will not just give you a rest but will be counted on making your body recharged and healthier.