A good night’s sleep could mean as little as six hours to as many as nine each night. Setting the right stage can help ensure a restful night and a healthier day. Here are seven ways to help you sleep well:
- Create the Right Environment
People tend to fall asleep when their body temperature drops and wake up when it rises. A programmable thermometer that drops the temperature when you go to bad and then slowly brings it back up when you wake will help you create a restful environment and save you money on heating and cooling bills. Additionally, it may be helpful to buy dark curtains for the bedroom windows, or to wear eye shades for sleep. “White noise” machines can help block out distracting noises and turning off your phone and disconnecting your doorbell can also help.
- Clear the Distractions
The book you haven’t finished, the bills that need attention and unfinished projects all have their place – as long as that place is not the bedroom. Keep your bedroom for sleeping.
- Stick to a Schedule
As much as we wish we could “catch up on sleep” on the weekends, it’s not possible. Sticking to a schedule, even on the weekends helps your body sleep and wake more effectively every day. Maintain a regular wake time, even on days off of work and on weekends. You should try to go to bed only when you are drowsy. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside of your bedroom.
- Take Time to Wind Down
If you are not drowsy and are unable to fall asleep for about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity somewhere else. Return to bed only when you are sleepy. You may have to repeat this process throughout the night.
Exercise, and the subsequent release of endorphins, is a wonderful way keep your body healthy and happy but it can also keep you awake. Exercise late in the afternoon to give your body time to unwind.
- Eat Well, Sleep Well
Eating a big evening meal may make you feel drowsy but your digestive system going into overdrive may keep you awake later. Eat a healthy meal slowly, avoid hard-to-digest foods and take time to enjoy your food. Stop when you feel full. While a light snack before bedtime may help promote sound sleep, avoid large meals before hitting the hay.
- Put Your Glass Down
Drinking caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea and chocolate within six hours of bedtime can interrupt your sleep. Avoid alcohol – a misnamed “night-cap” may make you feel sleepy initially but will wake you up soon after falling asleep. Nicotine also has a stimulant effect. Quitting smoking will not only help you sleep better but you’ll live longer and healthier!
- Take a Deep Breath
Try some relaxation exercises like deep breathing or progressive relaxation. You can also establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals like a warm bath, some gentle yoga, or 10 minutes of reading to help unwind before sleep. If you’re worried about something make a to-do list and put it aside.
If you’ve created a solid sleep environment and are still having trouble sleeping, it’s time to get some assistance from our physician.