With today’s stressful lifestyle, many of us are having more and more trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Experts tell us that sleep deprivation contributes to reduced productivity in the workplace and increased stress at home. Here are some simple changes you can make to help you get the rest you need.
1) Have a routine
Humans are pattern-recognizing beings. By following a routine at bedtime every night, you will make it easier to fall into a pattern that will help you relax and fall asleep. Have you ever had the problem of falling asleep every night in front of the TV, but then when you get up and go to bed, you are wide awake? The TV and the sofa have become your bedtime routine. You need to establish a new set of “going to bed, getting ready for sleep” habits.
Some people like to read before bed, but set yourself a time limit and stick to something light that you can easily put down after ten or fifteen minutes. Don’t get involved in a scary or suspenseful page-turner that will have you up for hours.
2) Avoid snacks
It’s tempting to grab a snack while watching TV late at night. It’s also easy, when you have trouble getting to sleep, to get into the habit of having “a little something”, particularly something sweet. It seems to settle you down, but in fact, eating too close to bedtime makes it harder to get to sleep and is not a good idea generally in terms of keeping your weight were it should be. One way to break the late-night snack habit is to have a warm beverage such as a caffeine-free herbal tea.
3) Exercise regularly
While exercising too close to bedtime may cause sleep problems, daily exercise will help you get to sleep. Twenty to thirty minutes of activity a day is the amount most medical professionals recommend. Exercise helps reduce stress and keep weight under control. Stress and obesity have both been linked to problems with sleep.
4) Have a comfortable sleeping environment.
When was the last time you took a good look at your bedroom? Is it conducive to sleep? How is the lighting, temperature and noise control? Has clutter collected that’s distracting you at bedtime? Is your mattress comfortable? Is it time to replace that flattened pillow or scratchy old sheets? Keeping your sleeping environment relaxing and comfortable will go a long way toward helping you get to sleep.