Insomnia is something that affects all of us at one time or another and, increasingly, it is becoming a regular feature of life in our modern, busy world. Sometimes we get into bad routines without even realising how they are negatively affecting our sleep. Here are five things you can do to get a better night’s sleep.
Don’t drink alcohol before bed
Alcohol is classed as a depressant, which means it will slow down the actions of your central nervous system. This feeling of drowsiness can, in fact, help you to fall asleep quicker. Indeed, this is why we often associate alcohol with sleep and may even enjoy a “nightcap” in order to help us get to sleep. But once we are asleep, things get problematic. As we are heading into that lovely deep, restorative sleep which is characterised by slow moving, delta, brain waves something else is happening. Alcohol consumption has been shown to induce alpha waves during sleep. These alpha waves do occur during resting times but usually only when the body is awake. So, in effect, we get two types of brain waves working against each other. One is gently processing while the other is trying in vain to rest and restore. It is because of this you do not end up having a good, deep sleep. So, avoid alcohol if you want to wake up refreshed.
Have a look at your mattress and pillows
Where you sleep is as important as when or how you sleep. We’ve all felt that sense of jealousy towards little children who seem to be able to fall asleep anywhere. But, as we get older we need to create that sense of comfort for ourselves. Proper support is needed in terms of a good pillow and a top quality mattress. We should regularly flip our mattresses to prevent uneven wear but also know when the time is right to retire one. Further to this, be sure that your bedclothes are warm, clean and dry as dampness can encourage mould growth. If you are waking up feeling groggy and with puffy eyes, consider the possibility that you may have a minor dust mite allergy. There are plenty of products on the market to help with this such as mattress and pillow covers and dust mite resistant sheets.
Leave a reasonable amount of time between your last meal and going to bed
If you tend to eat late at night before falling into bed you might find that your digestion keeps you awake. There are a few exceptions to this, however. If you must eat, keep the meals small. It’s best to avoid anything heavy, particularly fried foods or those that are full of bad fats. Do choose foods that are known to be sleep inducing. Tart cherries are becoming a go-to source for helping people sleep and they can be found in various forms in a health shop if you are unable to find the fresh berries. Also, foods that contain tryptophan, such as turkey, pumpkin seeds, and edamame (soy beans) are great. If you haven’t got any of these in the house try a combination of good fats and whole grain carbohydrates, such as nut butter on whole grain crackers, yoghurt and banana or muesli, or even some guacamole with quality tortilla chips.
Stop checking your emails in bed
Not unlike the above mentioned alcohol problem, working or checking emails right up to bedtime gets your brain firing in a way which is not conducive to sleep. As you start to wind down from the day your brain is producing melatonin to help you get a good night’s rest. When you turn on your phone or computer to check your emails, the light source lets your brain think it’s still daytime and there is no need to continue with melatonin production. After this, you may find is difficult to fall asleep or to sleep restfully. Beyond that is simply the fact that all those exciting emails with their riveting content and links can stimulate your brain enough that it will want to engage, not sleep.
Make your bedroom as dark as possible
Have you ever been camping in a tent and wondered why you wake up earlier than normal? Our brains revert back to those early human safety practices of being awake in the daylight and asleep in dark, when there are predators around. Although there are not many tigers chasing us down the high street these days, our brains still take light as a visual clue for waking and sleeping. So, like keeping your eyes off the light source of your computer screen, we should also help our brains to understand that it is sleep time by dimming lights before bed and then keeping it as dark as possible in the bedroom.
We all know the importance of sleep but sometimes it can be difficult to get there and stay there. Taking some care with regard to your sleep routine with these five tips can help you achieve a better night’s rest so you can conquer all that you need to in the morning.