You don’t have to be an insomniac to benefit from learning new ways to sleep better. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important ways of staying healthy. Even your immune system’s strength depends on consistent, good sleep. Whether or not you get the flu this season could have a lot to do with how you’re sleeping. Some long-term and serious consequences of chronically poor sleep include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
So how do you get a good night’s sleep? It’s not as difficult as you might think. Even some minor changes to your daily (or nightly) routine can make a big difference. Don’t get ahead of yourself, though! Take your time and consider some of the following possible changes. Then pick one to start, try it out, and see how you do.
1. Cut Down On Caffeine:
One of the most common habits that affects sleep is drinking coffee (or any caffeinated drink). Like a lot of people, you use coffee to get going in the morning. You might even chug down another cup in the afternoon when you feel sleepy — or you might have the habit of swallowing a few sodas a day. Taking stock of daily caffeine intake is a start. Once you know how much you’re drinking, you can start to cut back slowly. Cut out one caffeinated drink per day, then slowly blend your afternoon or evening coffee with decaf. Or try a nice cup of mild herbal tea instead, especially after 6 p.m. Remember, caffeine in moderation during the day probably won’t create sleep issues, but caffeine within a few hours of bedtime — look out!
2. Watch Your Food Intake Before Bed:
Going to bed with a full stomach is a potentially painful way to distressed sleep. Although it’s true feeling full can make you sleepy, your digestive system has to work hard to process large amounts of food, and that hard work can find you waking up frequently. Also, trying to sleep on a full stomach will most likely result in an acid reflux problem, complete with snoring, startling awake as if choking, and stomach pains.
3. Exercise Yes! Before Bed? No.:
We all know that exercise is a wonderful way to keep yourself healthy in so many ways. There’s no doubt that proper exercise contributes to a consistently better sleep experience. Getting your heart rate up and your adrenal glands pumping just before bed, however, will only lead to nighttime restlessness. Make sure you complete your exercise several hours before bedtime, and be sure to include a cool-down period so that you can unwind.
4. Leave The Drama Alone!:
You know better than anyone what gets you worked up. It may be a scary movie, an exciting mystery book or participating in a conflict. Bedtime isn’t the time to follow up on that 8 a.m. argument with your neighbor. Leave all that stressful stuff alone and maybe listen to gentle music or do a few relaxation exercises instead.
5. Plan For Bed:
How about setting aside fifteen minutes or a half hour before bed to set the stage for sleep? Maybe you have too many lights on. Look around and evaluate if your room looks peaceful or has a relaxing atmosphere. Flameless candles and lavender can go a long way to changing the mood for the better. What’s going on with you physically? If your shoulders are stuck to your ears from tension, the chances of getting successful sleep are that much harder. There are numerous relaxation techniques that will really work if you let them. There’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Imaginal Muscle Relaxation, to name two. To find out more about these and other techniques, come see my next blog, Relaxation and Sleep.