9 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep
Sleep can be very elusive especially when you need it the most! Just by trying too hard to go to sleep we are almost guaranteeing that we won’t! If we could disable that little worry button in our heads most of us would probably get better sleep than we’re experiencing now.
There are a variety of reasons sleep eludes so many of us. They may be physical, such as a disorder like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, or they may be emotional such as stress. To better understand how these conditions impact on our sleep, visit the pages on restless legs , sleep apnea and stress.
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There are other things that may have an impact on out ability to get better quality sleep or to sleep through the night without interruption. Most of these are easily fixed once we become aware of them. See if any of these applies to you and find out how to improve your sleep immediately!
Are you too hot or too cold? Check out your bedroom. Does it get very hot and stuffy? Is there any ventilation? Is the humidity too high? Quality sleep is impossible when we’re feeling hot, sticky and uncomfortable. Being too hot or cold can prevent us from going to sleep and can also cause restless and broken rest. Have a fan moving the air around and if possible, a dehumidifier.
Air conditioning will cool and dehumidify the air while also providing “white noise” which can help to get better sleep. If your bedroom is too cold or you don’t have adequate covering, this can awaken you in the early hours of the morning as your metabolic rate drops.
Sudden noise can wake us up or prevent us from going to sleep. Even the anticipation of noise can keep us awake. A snoring partner or a barking dog can severely disrupt our sleep patterns.
Invest in a soft pair of earplugs, that will at least cut out the higher pitched noises like bird song early in the morning. If you are a shift worker, these are invaluable.
Having an air conditioner switched on can create a constant sound which will deaden other noises somewhat. Move the dog further away from the bedroom so he’s not so loud. Snoring partners? I actually know one couple who built an extra bedroom on their house to solve that one. Anything to get a better night’s sleep!
Fancy a cup of coffee before retiring for the night? Don’t! That seemingly innocent cup of coffee contains the stimulant caffeine which can have you tossing and turning for hours. A cup of tea, while containing slightly less caffeine, will do the same.
If restlessness is a problem for you, don’t drink coffee or tea after lunchtime and limit them to around two cups a day. Watch out too for cola drinks, mocha flavored ice creams or chocolates and some flavored liquors.
Cigarettes can also keep you awake hours after you last put one out. The nicotine in the cigarette is a strong stimulant. Try to avoid them at least an hour before bed.
Alcohol is often touted as being a relaxant which helps us get better sleep. It can often help us to go to sleep quicker but can wake us up a few hours later. The effect of alcohol leaving the body causes this to happen.
Is your bed comfortable? A surprising number of people can’t sleep properly or have trouble falling asleep due to an uncomfortable mattress. A sagging sleep surface can cause an unnatural spine alignment which can cause muscles, particularly in the lower back, to tense up to try and compensate. The result is a nagging pain in the lower back.
If your mattress is too hard, it will not conform to the shape of your body and will be uncomfortable causing you to toss and turn all night.
A good mattress which fits with your idea of comfort is an excellent investment even if you have never had a restless night. It will keep your spine and overall posture in good shape. If you are a poor sleeper, a good mattress is up there with the most important things in life!
However, for one reason or another you may not be able to buy a new mattress right now. Don’t despair there is another option which costs a lot less. Its called memory foam and you simply lay it on top of your existing mattress.
5. Using your bed for other activities
We need to tell our subconscious minds that we are going to bed to go to sleep. We ca have better sleep if we refrain from using our beds for anything else but sleep. Writing letters, watching TV etc should all be done before going to bed.
Some experts say reading should also be included in the above. There are however some of us who find that reading in bed sends them to sleep much quicker. This is probably because reading takes the mind off all the stresses of the day.
So again, try and see what works for you. It’s probably best to avoid exciting or scary novels though!
I myself have a MP3 player going at low volume that can turn itself off when finished. Cassettes are not a good idea as most players make a loud ‘click’ as they switch off! Your choice of music is important here, try relaxation music, meditation CDs or boring lectures!
One CD/MP3 I can completely recommend to get to sleep faster is “Sleep Tracks“. These tracks allows your brain to go naturally into a peaceful alpha state where the annoying mind chatter which keeps so many of us awake is quietened. Sleep Tracks then takes you to the theta/delta state. You’ll wake rested and refreshed. There are different tracks for different sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep etc. There’s even one for power-napping.
6. Daytime naps
Experts disagree on this one, you may have to see how it works for you. Most say that daytime naps are bad, keeping you from falling asleep easily at night. However some folk swear by their nap after lunch, insisting that it keeps them alert in the afternoon. You decide for yourself. In some Mediterranean countries it is ‘de rigueur’ to have a siesta in the afternoons, even for the workers!
7. Don’t stay up later than usual
Going to bed even an hour later after your normal bedtime can upset your normal biological sleep rhythm and you might find you can’t go to sleep for a long time. Aim to retire at the same time every night.
8. Eating spicy foods or overeating
Either of these can cause indigestion and heartburn which will keep us awake or wake us up in the middle of the night with an uncomfortable feeling. Eating too late in the evening can have the same effect. Allow a few hours after dinner before hopping into bed.
9. Too much light
Is light interfering with your sleep? Is your bedroom near a street light? Do you have to sleep during the day? Investing in heavier curtains or blind for your windows would help obtain much deeper sleep. Another option is a sleep mask. These are light and comfortable and will allow you to sleep in in the morning!
I sincerely hope this information helps you to get better sleep. Visit also our page on sleep aids to find more ways to improve your sleep
Also read our interesting page on polyphasic sleep to learn how some folk sleep only 2.5 hours and still claim to have boundless energy!