Tips for a better sleep
Most of us have suffered a bad night’s sleep at some stage or another. A one-off restless night isn’t too much of a problem, apart from feeling irritable or below par the next day. But the effect of long-term sleep deprivation can be far more serious, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Take time to relax
Whether it’s taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to soothing music, it is vital you take the time to relax before you go to bed. For some people, writing a to-do list before bed can help free your mind from worrying about all the things you need to do tomorrow.
2. Get into a routine
We all know that having a routine helps babies and children fall asleep at a certain time. This applies to adults as well, because it allows your body to program itself to naturally fall asleep and wake up at certain times. Try to be rigid about going to bed at a certain time, and create your own relaxation routine.
3. Avoid technology
Ban your smart phone, computer and TV from your bedroom, and avoid looking at them for an hour before bed. This kind of device emits a blue light, which suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
4. Create a restful environment
Make sure your bed provides the correct support, comfort and space to ensure you wake up and move about less. Ensure that your room is the right temperature – between 16 °C and 18 °C (60°F to 65°F) is optimum.
5. Don’t clock watch
Worrying about getting enough sleep can itself stop us sleeping. The best way to deal with that is to remind yourself that resting in bed and thinking nice thoughts is more productive than tossing and turning and looking at the clock every ten minutes.
6. Foods for sleeping
Eating healthily improves sleep generally, but some foods are particularly beneficial, such as milk, chicken, turkey and pumpkin seeds. They contain the chemicals tryptophan and serotonin, which are vital for the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
7. Foods to avoid
Spicy food, alcohol and large meals shouldn’t be consumed in the hours before bedtime. For many, drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks in the afternoon can affect sleep.
8. Focus on sleep quality
We tend to focus on how long we’re asleep, but sleep quality is just as important. We go through five stages of sleep, which we experience in a cycle, around five times a night. During the later stages of the cycle our memories are consolidated and information is processed, among other things.