Friday, May 15, 2015

Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

The importance of sleep is undeniable – a bad night’s rest can have you reaching for the caffeine all morning or leave you feeling on edge as you go about your day. Long midday naps, an especially stressful work day and various things in your daily routine can make a significant impact on your body’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.   Fortunately, there are many habits that you can adopt to help you break the bad-sleep cycle and leave you feeling well rested, energized and ready to take on the day-to-day.

Stick to a sleep schedule – Your body follows a natural sleep-wake cycle that is easily disrupted by things such as staying up late or sleeping in to make up for a few lost hours. If you are getting enough rest, you should be able to wake up without having to use an alarm clock. Start regulating your sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every night and waking at a designated time every morning, even on weekends and days off when it may be tempting to stay up late. Consistency will help your body associate a certain time with sleep and help you fall asleep much faster, so you’ll get a much more satisfying night’s rest as a result.

Get into a nightly ritual – Practicing a nightly ritual will help your body associate the evening with your bedtime and ease the transition between being awake and asleep. Choose relaxing activities that aren’t overly stimulating, such as reading a book or dimming the lights as you get ready for bed to help you achieve better rest throughout the night.  

Pay attention to your diet – A diet high in sugar and refined carbs can trigger elevated cortisol levels, and since cortisol is one of your body’s “fight or flight reaction” hormones, that can hamper your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and/or wake up refreshed.  If you’re feeling hungry at night, try snacking on a natural source of sleep-inducing tryptophan like a small piece of chicken, turkey or cheese to quell your hunger pains. Also, things such as caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes can all stimulate your brain and keep you awake. Caffeine can affect your body up to 10 hours after consuming it and nicotine can cause withdrawals in the middle of the night, so consider cutting back on your consumption, especially when it’s  later on in the evening.

Make your room comfortable – Make sure that your sleeping environment is perfect to unwind in and free of any distractions that could interfere with sleep. Pile on the blankets and get cozy with pillows and a mattress that you find most comfortable. Even the soft glow of a cell phone backlight can keep your mind active and can prevent your body from fully transitioning into sleep mode. Cover any other electronics that emit light and use dark curtains to block out any outside light. You might end up tossing and turning if you become too hot throughout the night, so use an overhead fan, crack open a window or turn the air conditioning down a couple of degrees to maintain a comfortable yet cool sleep environment.

Know when to nap – Naps are a great way to re-energize when you’ve lost steam halfway through the day, but can sometimes also interfere with your ability to sleep later on. An ideal nap is a good 10 to 20 minutes and should be 30 minutes at the most to help you power through the rest of your day. Napping at a consistent time each day will lessen the chance of it interfering with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. If you have insomnia or any trouble sleeping, considering cutting naps out of your schedule in order to get to bed at a more reasonable time.

By breaking some old habits and adopting some new, you’ll find yourself on the fast track to better sleep in no time! Do you have any tricks you use to get a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below!

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