WAKE UP REFRESHED: BEST WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
SLEEP PROBLEMS SOLVED | NEURO- RELAXATION/ REBALANCE
Good quality sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, many of us don't get enough sleep regularly. Not sleeping well can lead to various health problems, including fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating and broader health problems in the long term.
There are many great ways to improve your sleep quality. Some simple tips include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. We go into more detail about these points below.
There are also some more advanced techniques that you can try, such as neuro-relaxation techniques and sleep aids to help when nothing else will.
If you're having trouble sleeping, it's beneficial to talk to your doctor or a sleep expert. A sleep professional or 'somnologist' can help you identify the cause of your sleep problems and recommend the best treatment options.
In the meantime, here are some helpful suggestions to quickly promote the restful sleep you need.
MAINTAIN A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE
We know maintaining a regular sleep pattern sounds boring, but the fact is sleeping well relies on a routine. Our bodies like predictability, and when we have sleep pattern continuity, our bodies can better prepare for sleep.
All new parents work hard to get their children into a regular sleep schedule because they know this means happier and healthier children in the morning. Well, it's no different for grown-ups, particularly as adult life is increasingly demanding.
Experts have proven that maintaining a regular sleep schedule means we fall asleep quickly and sleep deeper throughout the night.
CREATE A RELAXING BEDTIME ENVIRONMENT
The bedroom should be the most relaxing environment possible. This environment should promote relaxation and sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends keeping the following in mind when preparing your bedroom for sleep:
Keep the temperature cool, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (just over 18 degrees Celsius)
Make sure the room is dark and free from any noise that could disturb your sleep. Use blackout curtains or the equivalent and earplugs to block sound.
Reserve the bedroom and your bed for sleep, and create an environment that promotes relaxation. A relaxing environment means no screens (TV, laptop, phone) if possible.
Change your bed linen regularly to ensure a comfortable and inviting sleep environment.
WIND DOWN BEFORE BED
Our minds can race while trying to drop off to sleep, and it can be hard to shut off our thoughts at night, especially after a demanding day.
One way to help is to create a 'wind-down' routine in the hours leading up to sleep. These relaxation practices might involve mindfulness with a cup of herbal tea, reading a book, or writing in a journal.
An important strategy is to do something that calming and helps you transition into sleep mode. We know we have said this before, but avoiding looking at screens during this time is essential, as blue light can interfere with our natural sleep cycles.
The blue light emitted from screens suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy. Here’s the science behind that fact.
AVOID ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE BEFORE BED
How often have you heard someone say they are not affected by a late-night coffee or a 'night cap'? All too often, and it's simply not true.
These substances are stimulants and prevent us from falling asleep or staying asleep.
Even worse, you may drop off, but a stimulating drink late into the evening will disrupt our natural sleep cycles, so it's best to avoid them for up to five hours before bedtime.
DON'T EAT A HEAVY MEAL BEFORE BEDTIME
Overeating heavy food before bed can cause indigestion and make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try to eat your evening meal at least three hours before bedtime if you can. If you're hungry before bed, try eating a light snack such as plain yoghurt or whole grain toast.
A milk-based drink can help, as milk contains the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, but don't be tempted by hot chocolate or malt-based beverages as these have a lot of sugar, and sadly chocolate contains caffeine.
GET ENOUGH EXERCISE DURING THE DAY
Exercise is not only excellent for our overall health, but it can also improve sleep quality. It helps to tire our bodies out so that we're more ready to sleep at night. Make sure you don't exercise too close to bedtime, as this can have the opposite effect and make it harder to fall asleep.
Going for a run after work is a great way to relax. Not everyone likes running, so a brisk walk and even walking the dog will do just as well. One of the most important rules in your life should be to get your body moving for at least 30 minutes a day.
If your sleep problems seem insurmountable and your brain needs resetting, try neuro-relaxation for more direct results.
USE NEURO- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
Various neuro-relaxation techniques can help improve sleep quality. One popular method is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups throughout the body.
Neuro-relaxation techniques can help reduce tension and promote relaxation, leading to improved sleep patterns.
Scientists and doctors are promoting neuro-relaxation to patients with insomnia as the results of their test cases, and studies have proved groundbreaking. Read more here.
Other methods include deep breathing exercises and visualisation exercises. These techniques can take some practice to master, but they're worth it if you struggle to get a good night's sleep.
Interestingly, when you suspect you're having a sleep problem, that problem seems to manifest itself into a broader and more problematic issue.
So to stop problematic sleep issues in their tracks, experts suggest keeping a 'sleep diary’. Keeping a journal involves recording how long you sleep when you wake up in the night, and primarily how rested you feel in the morning - you're electronic sleep device will do this for you.
A sleep diary can also be a valuable tool for tracking your progress once you start changing your sleep habits. It can help you see how well you're sleeping in the longer term and gauge whether or not your new routine is working.
Remember that everyone is unique. It could take trial and error to determine what works best for you. But if you persevere, you'll reap the benefits of improved sleep and more energy throughout the day.
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