Have you been feeling a little crabby off late? Or do you feel a little more worn out than usual? It could be that you are in need of better sleep!
Just think of all the various factors that come in the way of you getting some good sleep and rest at night – family responsibilities and work pressure usually top the list. Then there are other unexpected challenges that you may encounter along the way such as illnesses, relationship issues, and layoffs. Thus it comes as little wonder that quality sleep often eludes the average individual.
When it comes to the matter of sleep, quantity often takes a backseat with quality being the dominant factor. Your overall feeling during the waking hours is greatly influenced by the quality of sleep you have had the last night. Then again, the cure for sleep difficulties and daytime fatigue are often present in your daily routine.
Your daily lifestyle choices, bedtime habits, and sleep schedule often determine how good a rest you get at night. In fact, the average human being spends one-third of his/her life sleeping. However, that does not mean that the body is simply slacking off. While we are sleeping, the body undertakes a massive repair job on itself so that the next morning when the alarm rings, we get up refreshed and renewed.
If you toss and turn all night in bed, it can severely affect your productivity and judgment while also hampering your ability to retain information when you wake up the next morning. Over time, diabetes and obesity affect your lifestyle, and a chronic bad attitude sets in.
Why it is Important To Sleep Well
- 1 Why it is Important To Sleep Well
- 2 Some Tips to Make Your Journey into Dreamland a Smooth One
- 2.1 Plan a Schedule for Your Sleep and Stick to It
- 2.2 Maintain a Diary That Tracks Your Sleep
- 2.3 Kick the Butt
- 2.4 Review the Medications You Are On
- 2.5 Perform Regular Exercise but At Least Four Hours Before You Hit the Hay
- 2.6 Post 2 P.M. You Should Not Have Any Caffeine Intake
- 2.7 Take Note of Your Grievances in Life
- 2.8 Give Yourself Some Time to Wind Down
- 2.9 Milk is Okay before Bed, but Not a Martini
- 2.10 Have Crackers and Cheese for Your Nighttime Snack
- 2.11 Give Yourself in to a Bedtime Story
- 2.12 Ensure You Are in a Cool Environment
- 2.13 Menopausal Women Must be in a Cool Environment, There is No Other Choice
- 2.14 Use a Sleep-Inducing Scent in the Room
- 2.15 Have White Noise Playing
- 2.16 Ensure There Are No Sneaky Light Sources
- 2.17 No Furry Bedmates Please!
- 2.18 Check the Positioning of Your Pillow
- 2.19 Take Deep Breaths
- 2.20 In Case You Wake Up, Stay Put
- 3 How a Memory Foam Mattress Can Help
The many benefits of sleep are pretty obvious. While it may seem like we are just wasting our time lying down, sleep is what helps us become highly productive and ready for action the following morning. Without sleep, you may not get into an all-conquering attitude the following morning.
That is not all. In numerous studies conducted on animals and human beings, sleep has been found to play a critical role with regards various critical functions such as learning, memory, metabolism, and immune activities.
Scientists are yet to fully establish the reason behind why we sleep. A number of ideas have been formed, linking them to our deep evolutionary roots. Sleep’s potential in helping improve our health and memory is also being studied and is of particular relevance for life in the modern 21st century.
Some Tips to Make Your Journey into Dreamland a Smooth One
While it is not in your hands to have a say over all of the factors that cause severe interference with your sleeping pattern, certain tweaks to your daily schedule can help you in catching the forty winks without much of a difficulty.
Plan a Schedule for Your Sleep and Stick to It
If there is one thing that you must do improve your sleep, this is the most recommended practice. Experts say that every night you should go to bed at the same time and have a specific time for waking up the next morning – this should hold good even during the weekends. With a regular sleep routine, you get to maintain a steady biological clock thus ensuring that you get better rest. Exposing yourself to a regular pattern of light and dark is also beneficial. Hence, you should ideally stay in sync by going outside or opening the blinds as soon as you wake up in the morning. In fact, research has shown that morning light helps in keeping you slim.
Maintain a Diary That Tracks Your Sleep
To better help you understand and correlate the amount of rest you get with your daily habits, you should track your sleep regularly for a period of at least 14 days. Make note of the obvious things that are related to your sleep – the time when you go to bed, how long you need to fall asleep, the number of times you wake up at night, how you feel during the morning. Other factors you need to take note of are the sort of exercise you had gone through and what you had eaten around your bedtime. By comparing your sleep patterns with your daily activities, you will be able to figure out where you need to implement the changes.
Kick the Butt
Nicotine present in cigarettes is actually a stimulant so it prevents you from dozing off. There have been complaints from numerous smokers regarding withdrawal pangs they experience at night. Studies show that a smoker is more likely to continue feeling fatigued even after a good sleep at night as opposed to a non-smoker. Smoking has also been linked to sleep apnea and various breathing disorders that can hamper the rest you wish to get at night. You may find yourself staying up even after you have kicked the butt; this is not uncommon and the issue dissolves itself after a few nights.
Review the Medications You Are On
Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed for those who have issues with high blood pressure. However, it has also been linked to insomnia. Classes of antidepressants – such as SSRIs – that include the likes of Zoloft and Prozac have also been linked to sleep disorders. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is recommended that you make a note of every supplement and drug that you take and have it evaluated by your doctor. Chances are one of them is unknowingly affecting your daily sleep.
Perform Regular Exercise but At Least Four Hours Before You Hit the Hay
Doing various kinds of exercises and working out, especially cardio training, gives an improved length and quality to your sleep. Having said that, if you do vigorous aerobic exercises for no more than thirty minutes it can keep your body temperatures high for as long as four hours. This can be a severe inhibition to your sleep. Once the body starts cooling down, the brain receives a signal to release the sleep-inducing hormones melatonin and that is when you start feeling drowsy.
Post 2 P.M. You Should Not Have Any Caffeine Intake
When I say caffeine, I am referring to cola, tea, as well as coffee. Caffeine is a strong stimulant that stays behind in your system for a good eight hours. You may enjoy your cappuccino after dinner but once it is time for bed, it will prevent your brain from entering into a deep sleep condition. What’s worse, it may prevent you from sleeping altogether!
Take Note of Your Grievances in Life
According to many physicians, the one complain most people make about not being able to sleep is that they are unable to turn off their minds. In order to quieten down that constant worrying that keeps you awake through the night, it is best to jot down your top concerns every night before you go to bed.
Chances are you are worrying about settling that disputed claim with your insurer but don’t know where you will have time for such a long phone call in the middle of your busy schedule. If you go to bed with that thought in mind, you will lose out on some peaceful rest.
Instead, make a note of the steps that can act as a solution for your problem – look up the numbers prior to breakfast, do not stay on hold for more than three minutes, send out e-mails at night if there is no progress through the day. As soon as your concerns take the shape of some kind of action plan, you will find yourself resting with much more ease.
Give Yourself Some Time to Wind Down
Had sleep been a simple on-off switch, things would have been a whole lot easier for the entire human population. Sadly that is not the case; rather, sleep is more like slowly taking your foot off the gas as you drive a car. You should give your body some time to transition from an active day down to the bedtime drowsiness. This is best achieved by scheduling a list of activities for the hour before your bed. An example would be as follows:
- First 20 minutes: Get yourself prepared for the next day. You could have your clothes set out or have your bag packed
- Next 20 minutes: This time is dedicated for your personal hygiene. Give your face some moisturizing, brush your teeth
- Final 20 minutes: You should get into bed and relax. You could practice deep breathing or indulge in some light reading with a small, low-wattage lamp by your bedside
Milk is Okay before Bed, but Not a Martini
A few hours after you have had a drink, the level of alcohol in your blood starts dropping. This is a signal for your body to wake up. An average person takes around an hour to metabolize one drink. If you are keen on having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, ensure your last sip is taken at least 2 hours before you intend to go to bed.
Have Crackers and Cheese for Your Nighttime Snack
An ideal nighttime nosh should be a combination of carbohydrates and either protein or calcium. The protein should also contain tryptophan which is an amino acid. According to studies, a combination of these help in boosting serotonin which is a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain and gives you a sense of calm. Your snack should be taken at least an hour before you go to bed so that the amino acid gets enough time to make its way up to your brain.
Here are some good choices:
- Low-fat yogurt and fruit
- Fat-free milk and whole grain cereal
- Banana taken with a teaspoon of peanut butter
- A piece of whole grain toast with a slice of turkey or low-fat cheese
Give Yourself in to a Bedtime Story
If there is a story you know pretty well, take it in the form of an audio book and load it into your iPod. This way, it won’t have you engaged but keep you distracted enough before you drift off to dreamland. Relaxing music has the same soothing impact and can be an alternative.
Ensure You Are in a Cool Environment
Your bedroom thermostat should ideally be set to between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is a good guideline, it is important to take note of how you actually feel under the sheets. Slipping in between cool sheets helps in reducing body temperatures which in turn sends out a signal to the body for production of melatonin, a sleep inducing chemical.
This is why taking a hot shower or warm bath before hitting the bed is a recommended practice. Both of them raise your body temperature a bit and then gradually cool it down in the cooler air, inducing sleep in the process. Optimal rest is attained when you feel just right after having settled down in bed – neither cold nor hot!
Menopausal Women Must be in a Cool Environment, There is No Other Choice
At the time of menopause as many as 75% of the female population suffer from hot flashes. Night sweats are common among 20% and this severely comes in the way of them getting a good night’s sleep. An AC or fan helps in cooling and circulating the air to give the women added comfort. It is suggested that you go easy for cooling your environment down too much will only be a measure that backfires.
Use a Sleep-Inducing Scent in the Room
Ylang-ylang, chamomile, and lavender are some of the smells that stimulate the back of your brain to increase its alpha wave activity. This brings a sense of relaxation and gives you a sound sleep. Try mixing a few drops of water and essential oil in a spray bottle and spray few drops on your pillowcase. Soon, you will find yourself in a deep slumber!
Have White Noise Playing
There are certain sound machines that are designed specifically to help you sleep by producing a soothing sound at a low intensity. These are extremely helpful in tuning out disturbances such as the loud TV playing downstairs or that dog barking incessantly outside. As a result, not only will you be able to fall asleep but also you can experience an uninterrupted sleep.
Ensure There Are No Sneaky Light Sources
Light is a powerful source that signals your brain to remain awake. The glow from your smart phone, iPad, laptop, or any other similar electronic gadget on your nightstand can easily pass through your retina and closed eyelids to reach your hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that controls how much and how well you sleep regularly. As a result, the brain delays the release of melatonin which is the hormone responsible for inducing sleep. Hence, if you wish to sleep soundly it is important that your room remains perfectly dark.
No Furry Bedmates Please!
Dogs tend to sniff around, scratch, and snore, keeping you awake at night. Cats often get unusually active during the late night and in the wee hours of the morning. For people who sleep with their pets, more than half of them have complained that the animals are interference to their slumber. However, if you have a pet that is a good, sound sleeper then it can be very soothing and comforting to snuggle up with it. In such a situation, allowing him to stay put won’t hurt you in anyway.
Check the Positioning of Your Pillow
If you have the perfect prop for your head, your neck and spine will be in a straight line. This will keep all tension and cramps at bay which are often hindrances to letting you fall asleep. If you are married, you can seek the help of your spouse in checking the alignment of neck and head when you are lying down to sleep.
In case your neck is raised or flexed back, position a pillow in a way that allows you to sleep in a better, more comfortable alignment. And if you have the habit of sleeping on your stomach, it is best not to use any pillow or simply a flat one that allows your spine and neck to remain straight.
Take Deep Breaths
This technique is helpful in reducing your blood pressure and heart rate. It also relaxes your body and allows the release of endorphins which primes you up to fall into a good sleep. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and then exhale over a count of 5 seconds. Initially do this over 8 repetitions and then proceed over to 15.
If you wish to see if you are getting it right, get hold of a bottle of children’s bubbles. Take a deep breath through your belly and blow out through the wand. The smooth, steady breath that you use in successfully blowing a bubble should be the type of breathing that you strive for when you lie down to sleep.
In Case You Wake Up, Stay Put
Many textbooks and medical guides suggest that if you are unable to fall back asleep even after fifteen minutes, you should walk out of bed. However, there is a catch to this. If you are not feeling anxious or fretting, you should simply stay there. Continue to lie down in the dark and do some visualization or deep breathing.
Nevertheless, if you are lying in bed and feeling stressed out, you should get up and do something that is quiet and relaxing. This should preferably be done in dim light. Massage your feet or do some gentle yoga before you are finally relaxed enough to sleep again.
How a Memory Foam Mattress Can Help
Very often, people put the blame on a number of different factors for not being able to fall asleep. However, what they fail to realize is that the mattress they are sleeping on can be the biggest culprit that hampers their peaceful night of rest.
Many people are unaware that sleeping on a mattress of a poor quality can wreak havoc with their quality of sleep. They continue to persist with them and get affected by sleep deprivation, in turn leading to severe health complications down the years. It is worth noting that you should replace your old mattress with a more comfortable one once you realize that you are finding it difficult to catch forty winks on it. If the issue still persists, then you can think of other measures.
A memory foam mattress is the product most recommended for you in this regard. It is extremely soft and provides a great comfort that is difficult to obtain in most other mattress materials. Also, it aligns with the shape of your body so that you don’t feel any unusual bumps or crevices on the bed when you lie down to sleep.
For many people, replacing a mattress is not all that attractive a proposition. Not only is it expensive to replace a mattress but it also has numerous significant memories attached to it. So many families are reluctant to let go off their piece of heritage.
If that is the issue you are faced with, you can try out a best memory foam mattress topper at home. This way, your old mattress remains intact at home and you don’t have to worry about replacing it. Instead, you have a thin comforting layer in the form of a mattress topper placed out on top of it.
A mattress topper is essentially a piece of sleeping equipment that you place out on top of an old mattress to protect it from further damage, while giving you the comfort of having a new mattress at home. It is not an expensive piece of equipment to have and is not ungainly. Moreover, a memory foam mattress topper can be carried along on road trips so that you can place them on your hotel bed to get the comfort of lying on your own bed.
Sleep is your birthright; let nothing come in your way of obtaining it!
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