Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.- Benjamin Franklin
Although the benefits of sleep have long been discussed, analyzed and explored, more of us than ever before are moving through life hampered by bodies and minds crying out for rest. An attitude exists that sleep isn’t really needed, that there’s always something important and you can always ‘catch up’ later. Sleep is being sidelined and as a result, people aren’t living to their full potential. Habits are often hard to change but today I’m going to give you some useful pointers!
1. Turn Off Electronic Devices
Particular frequencies of light radiated from devices have been found to disrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Switch off devices at least an hour before bed to allow your body to wind down and prepare itself for sleep. Reading a book or writing in a journal are good alternatives.
2. Exercise Regularly
Studies show that active people sleep considerably better than inactive people. Avoid strenuous exercise just before bed however, as this can have the opposite effect.
3. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Although alcohol is proven to induce sleep quicker, studies show that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. Rapid Eye Movement (REM), the stage of sleep when people dream and is known to be restorative, is affected by alcohol and causes more disruption in our sleep cycles. The more you drink, the more pronounced the effects!
4. Do Some Stretches
Through trying out stretches for a number of different body parts, it could expel some of the stresses and tensions from your day and allow you to relax in preparation for a good night’s sleep. Research online or perhaps read some books if you wish to find any ideas.
If you suffer from an overactive mind that struggles to settle as soon as you head to bed, this could be the perfect solution. You could choose to listen to calming music or download a mindfulness podcast for a guided meditation, however, if neither of those suit you could simply lie on your bed and focus on your breathing. The beauty of meditation is that it comes in so many different forms!
6. Keep Your Bedroom Tidy
A messy, cluttered room can trigger your stress response and thus, make it very difficult for the mind to rest and fall into a deep sleep.
7. Cut Out Long Daytime Naps
While short naps of around 30-40 minutes long are beneficial, anything longer than that can confuse your internal body clock and mean it’s more difficult to sleep at night. The truth is that oversleeping is just as damaging as undersleeping!
8. Maintain a Sleep Schedule
Try your best to go to bed and get up around about the same time every day. Being consistent with timings reinforces your circadian rhythm- an internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Going to bed at very contrasting times each night will interfere with your sleep cycle and make it more difficult to sleep!
9. Put Your Clock Away
Have you ever found yourself glancing at the clock, or listening to it tick several times a night? Doing so can leave your mind racing with thoughts about the day ahead and keep you awake longer. Leave your clock covered, in a drawer or turned away from view.
10. Limit Use of Sleeping Pills
While they can be good as a short-term solution, taking sleeping pills on a long-term basis can become addictive and cause side-effects. The use of sleeping pills has increased at alarming rates in recent years and it’s important that people learn to induce sleep naturally.
If you wish to give any of your own suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,