Have you ever begun your day feeling a little less refreshed and a little more confused and forgetful than usual? Perhaps you’ve spent more time counting sheep and less time asleep the previous night. You may have been deprived of a good night’s sleep for a number of reasons.
The earlier you realize what is preventing you from having a quality eight-hour sleep, the better! Sleep deprivation over time can lead to many chronic health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, depression, and suicide. It can also harm you in an instant, as in a car crash!
Getting enough sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle and vital to our general well-being. It helps us function well the following day. While we sleep, our brains are active, forming memories, going through events of the last day and preparing for the next. With a good night’s sleep, you will be better equipped to learn, to think creatively, to be alert, and make clear decisions. It also affects our mood and how we interact with others.
- Have a Consistent Sleep Pattern
Try to get to bed around the same time each night. This holds true for weekends as well. This can be a problem for people who do shift work, late night entertainers, or travelers dealing with the affects of “jet-lag”. It can take some time to get caught up on missed sleep.
- Take Time to “Power Down”
Have a pre-bedtime ritual. At least a half-hour before you turn in, take the time to de-stress and turn off the noise of the day. Walk away from any screens. Try to avoid using the computer, or watching TV. Listening to some quiet music, that can help you relax.
- Don’t Exercise Late in the Evening
Gentle yoga postures that help you relax are okay, but strenuous exercise that gets your heart pumping close to bedtime is not a good idea.
- Create a Bedroom Oasis
Your bedroom should be a calm relaxing environment. It should be dark, and quiet. Some people like to introduce white noise such as the sound of a fan or humidifier to drown out loud street noise.
You’ll need a comfortable mattress, pillows and suitable blankets or comforters. If you consistently wake up with a sore neck, your pillow may be to blame.
An overnight temperature of between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 19 c) is ideal. As we sleep, our “set point” for body temperature goes down. If it’s too hot or too cold, the body struggles to reach this ideal temperature for sleep.
- Don’t Eat Close to Your Bedtime
Avoid late meals, and keep any pre-bedtime snacks “small”. Also, limit the fluids you drink, so you won’t be awakened in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
- Avoid Coffee, Alcohol, and Cigarettes
Alcohol may act as a sedative and help you fall asleep, but will likely disrupt your sleep throughout the night. Not to mention your unruliness will affect anyone you are sharing your bed with! Coffee or any other caffeinated drinks and cigarettes are stimulants that will affect your sleep.
- Be Aware of any Medical Conditions Affecting Your Sleep
Be aware of any medical conditions that might be interfering with your quality of sleep, such as leg cramps, stomach pain and digestive issues such as heartburn, joint pain, arthritis, asthma or psychological issues. There may be some side affects of any drugs that you are taking. Check with your doctor if you have any condition or sleep disorder that prevents you from having a good night’s sleep.