Here are ten tips that may help you develop sleep patterns that enable your body to regenerate and recharge your batteries for the day ahead.
Alcohol before bedtime may relax you and mislead you into the belief that you are setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Alcohol does initially relax you and help you ease into the sleep state, the problem is that alcohol induced sleep is a shallow sleep. Alcohol stimulates body function, which reduces the ability of the body to enter the next phase of deep sleep, resulting in broken interrupted sleep throughout the night.
Avoid caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks prior to bedtime. An example of the effects of caffeine is a stimulating affect from between 4-7 hours which will have a similar affect to alcohol, inhibiting the second phase of sleep, deep sleep (slow wave sleep).
Avoid smoking altogether, as a German study has shown links between nicotine levels and quality of sleep. If abstinence is not possible avoid smoking as much as possible prior to going to bed. Nicotine stimulates a number of areas in the brain, especially the reward regions which tend to interfere with sleep.
Eating close to bedtime may result in poorer quality sleep, eating spicy foods, such as peppers and curries or foods that are slow to digest may all affect the quality of sleep. So allow a few hours between dinner and bedtime.
Balancing body fluids; drink enough water to reduce the risk of waking up thirsty; drinking too much may result in a need to wake for a trip to the bathroom. As we age the tendency to wake up to toilet increases, be careful to drink enough to avoid negative health results of cutting back the fluids too much as we age.
Unwind and relax well before bedtime, taking the stresses of the day to bed may affect quality of sleep, read something light or watch a relaxing show, a bath or shower may help.
Establish healthy sleep patterns, many life forms including plants and animals are regulated by circadian rhythms, these rhythms are established and maintained by daylight and seasons. At different periods throughout the year we may have more or less energy. A change in time zone due to travel also affects these rhythms; commonly known as jetlag. Our bodies function well and thrive on routine; waking and sleeping at the same time benefits quality of sleep.
Exercise is great for overall good health, but the modern phenomena of the home gym equipment has resulted in another negative, exercising close to bedtime releases the stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates the brain effecting quality of sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise 3-4 hours before bedtime.
Catnaps or Nana naps; it is generally accepted that these naps are best kept to around 20 minutes when taking a break from driving or before bedtime; best avoided if possible between early evening and bedtime as these naps may be the source of sleep quality issues.
Audit the bedroom, is it conducive to a good night’s sleep, the penetration of light into the room may affect sleep patterns, artificial light sources like, televisions, computers and cell phones or adjacent rooms all may affect quality of sleep. Noise, radios and music, external sources may also impact on sleep. These affects may be mitigated by heavy curtains, sound proofing or décor; think of bedrooms as a place to sleep and enjoy sex, not a place to engage in business activities.
So in summary the Harvard phrase sleep hygiene is nothing to do with bacteria or contamination, it’s all about promoting mind, environment and metabolism to promote restorative and regenerative sleep.
Recent findings indicate that some of us may benefit by having two green kiwi fruit before bedtime.
There are a number of natural products that promote sleep. Blends of herbs like Sleepwell are great, but do try the above first and if symptoms are serious consult a healthcare professional.