There are things you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning and full of energy throughout the day. Many people are unaware of some of their habits when it comes to a healthy sleep regimen. From the areas below, see if there are any things you can do better with right now, and work on the rest over the coming months.
Check how many of these things you have done in the last week and consider making changes to your routine, starting with the easy ones. Small benefits add up over time and you will hopefully find yourself sleeping better, more energized and motivated to keep making further beneficial changes.
Go to bed at the same time each day
The body has a natural clock which will make you sleepy when you’re ready for bed. Try not to ignore this. Going to bed too early may also result in disturbed sleep.
Get up from bed at the same time each day
Getting up at the same time helps to keep your body clock synchronized with what is going on outside. If you can stick to a fairly regular waking and sleeping time, your body will become accustomed to it. Avoid the temptation to try to make up for a poor night’s sleep by sleeping in. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be obsessive about it, an occasional night out or sleeping in is not going to hurt.
Get regular exercise each day
There is good evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. Ideally this should be done before dinner or in the morning and not right before bed, since exercising raises your core body temperature, increases your heart rate and prompts your system to release adrenaline.
Try to spend some daytime outdoors or in natural light
Light is important for the body to produce melatonin which is a sleep promoting substance. Sunlight early in the day is particularly helpful in synchronizing your body clock.
Make the bedroom as restful as possible
This means keeping the temperature cool, keeping noises and outside light to a minimum and leaving distracting things such as beeping watches or clocks outside.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex
Some people use the bed as a lounge room, by studying, watching television, talking on the phone etc. Try and avoid this and make sure that the bed is associated only with sleeping. The brain makes connections between places (the bedroom) and events (sleeping) and you need to reinforce these. Make sure the bed is for sleeping and sex only.
Take medications as directed
Prescription medications may cause you to be alert or sleepy and the instructions that come with them should be followed. Don’t vary the time of day that you take your medication.
Be comfortable and relaxed
If you are cold in bed, warm the room or wear warmer clothes. Warm hands and feet are particularly important. If you have uncomfortable pillows, mattress or bedclothes, get them fixed. You will spend the next eight hours in bed and you don’t want to be uncomfortable. A warm bath about an hour before bedtime causes the body’s temperature to rise and then fall which may promote sleep.
Understand your sleep needs
Most people need between seven and nine hours sleep each day but this includes naps and time spent dozing in front of television. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations of your sleep needs.
Relax and don’t worry!
Many sleeping problems are due to bad habits built up over a long period. You won’t fix sleeping problems in one night; persevere with good sleep habits and sleep should get better. Different things may work for you, find what those are and stick with it. Above all, don’t obsess about your sleep problems. One poor night’s sleep is not a problem. Just return to your good sleep habits the next night.
What are your secrets to a good night’s sleep? Leave us a comment below.