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Sleeping Well, Can’t Sleep? 12 Ways to help you get to sleep on time
We all know how important it is to get a good night sleep, right? Everyone does.
Sound slumber can result in a boost to your immune system, raised energy and productivity levels, enhanced heart health, a better mood, even a longer life. The benefits of a good night sleep are endless, and we all just feel so much better after a satisfying 8 hours of rest.
But with so much to do in a day, how can we ensure that we get enough shut-eye?
Here are 12 simple ways to help you to get better sleep. Try it out. You can thank us in the morning.
12 Ways to improve your sleeping patterns:
1. Set a sleep schedule—and stick with it
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning-7 days a week. A consistent sleep pattern maintains your biological clock so you receive better rest. Exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark helps, so stay in sync by opening the blinds or going outside right after you wake up.
2. Keep a sleep diary
To help you understand how your habits affect your rest, track your sleep every day for at least 2 weeks. Write down not only what’s obviously sleep related—bedtime, length of time before falling asleep and times you wake up. Think about writing down how you feel in the morning, what you ate near bedtime, whether you remember your dreams, so that you know what’s affecting your sleep.
3. Stop smoking
Nicotine is a stimulant, so it stops you from sleeping. Many smokers suffer from withdrawal systems in the evening. Smoking aggravates breathing conditions, which can interfere with a normal sleeping pattern.
4. Review your medications
Beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure) may cause insomnia; so can antidepressants. Make a list of all the drugs and supplements you use, and ask your doctor to evaluate how they may be disturbing your sleep.
5. Exercise, but not within 4 hours of bedtime
Working out—especially cardio—improves the length and quality of your sleep. Half an hour of strong aerobic training keeps your body temperature elevated for several hours, hindering sleep. On body cool down, your brain receives the alert to free the hormone melatonin, which will encourage drowsiness, thus promoting sleep.
6. Cut caffeine
Caffeine is a “drug” which will remain in your system for many hours, so if you have a hot drink of tea or coffee after dinner, or any beverages containing caffeine, it may stop your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.
7. Wind down time
Give your body time to transition from your active day to bedtime drowsiness by setting a timer for an hour before bed. Turn off all devices, the TV and spend your time preparing for your next day’s activities, getting ready for bed, or relaxing with a good book.
8. Cut Out Alcohol well before bedtime
A few hours after drinking, alcohol levels in your blood start to drop, telling your body to wake up. Processing alcohol is an individual thing, but on average, it takes about an hour per drink. Your last sip should be taken around 2 hours before bed.
9. Eliminate light sources
Light is a powerful signal to your brain to be awake. Your laptop, iPad, smart phone create a glow, as well as other electronics on your nightstand which may pass through your closed eyelids and retinas into your hypothalamus—the section of your brain that influences your sleep. The sleep-promoting hormone melatonin release is deferred. Darken your room as much as possible to increase the depth of your sleep.
10. Check your pillow position
The perfect prop for your head will keep your spine and neck in a straight line to avoid tension or cramps that can prevent your sleep. Get a pillow that lets you sleep in the correct position. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, try no pillow or a flat one to help keep your neck and spine straight.
11. Breathe deeply
This technique helps reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, releases endorphins, and relaxes your body, priming you for sleep. Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 15.
12. Stay put if you wake up
The textbook advice is that if you can’t fall back asleep in fifteen minutes, get out of bed, but more often than not this doesn’t actually work. If you’re not fretting or anxious, stay there, in the dark, and do some deep breathing or visualization. If lying still doesn’t work, consider doing something relaxing and quiet, such as reading a good book until you feel sleepy again.