Updated: Jan 7
Helpful Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
“Any individual, no matter what age, will exhibit serious health issues including physical ailments, mental health instability, reduced alertness, and impaired memory if their sleep is chronically disrupted.” Mathew Walker, PHD, Author Why We Sleep
But these days we are dealing with so many unnatural and unhealthy factors that can affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. From the ongoing pandemic and subsequent health concerns and self-isolation - to the uncertain political, economic and financial times we find ourselves in. Then add work-related stress to the mix and then sprinkle on the challenges of normal everyday family life. It’s just too much…so is it any wonder that the quality of our sleep is disturbed or inadequate these days?
While we may not have the ability to control many of these factors - we can make some simple changes that encourages better sleep.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Avoid large or heavy meals within a few hours of your bedtime. They can cause discomfort and keep you from falling and staying asleep. If you get hungry before going to bed – have something light and healthy.
Also sugar, alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that can take hours to get out of our system. They can wreak havoc on the quality of our sleep so try and avoid them.
Stay away from prescription and over-the-counter drugs sleeping pills. Try a melatonin supplement or herbal tea to help you relax. Chamomile tea is one of the best teas for bedtime because it is caffeine-free and contains natural sleep-inducing ingredients.
Include physical activity in your daily routine
Regular daily physical activity (but not too late in the day) can really help promote a better and more restful sleep.
Also try and spend some time outside every day. Take a brisk 30-minute walk in the sunshine in as natural an environment as possible. Studies show that regularly spending time in nature helps reduce stress, boosts our immune system and can help induce sleep.
Manage the anxiety and stress in your life
Try to resolve any stressful concerns or situations before you go to bed. Write down what's on your mind - then put it away and leave it for tomorrow.
Regularly practicing deep-breathing techniques along with yoga and meditation can also help ease anxiety.
Create a sleep schedule
The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. So try and set aside no more than eight hours for your sleep time.
Set up a routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day - and try to limit the difference in your sleeping schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent here helps reinforce your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
If you find you are tossing and turning and you just cannot relax and fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed - leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Stay away from the TV/phone and read a printed book or listen to some soothing music. And when you start to feel tired – then go back to bed. Repeat as needed.
Create a peaceful and restful environment
Create a room that's perfect for sleeping. Often, this means an ambient temperature, dark and quiet. Exposure to any light or noise source can make it more challenging to fall asleep so try room-darkening sound-proofing curtains or blinds. Invest in a good quality mattress and natural bedding. And make it a rule to not use your light-emitting electronics while in bed. Consider using earplugs, a fan or a white-noise machine to create an environment that is peaceful and helps you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
You can also try having a warm bath and/or doing some relaxation techniques such as gentle stretching and meditation.
Limit your daytime naps
Long naps during the day can really interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you find yourself exhausted and just have to close your eyes, set your timer and limit yourself to a brief 15- 30 minute catnap during daylight hours.
Getting a solid eight hours of restful sleep every night is the most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each and every day.