Sleep is just as important as a nutritious diet and exercise to maintain good health. A lack of sleep can lead to health issues such as a weakened immune system, mood problems like anxiety and depression, memory problems, high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
However, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done in today’s busy world. In addition to work and home pressures, we are often bombarded with information from smart devices that can make it very hard for us to wind down at the end of the day. To help solve your sleeplessness issues, here are ten quick tips you can try for a good night’s sleep.
1. Get some sunlight
Your body naturally acts in accordance with its circadian rhythm, which is your natural internal alarm clock that lets your body know when to wake and sleep. Many of us spend too much time inside during the day, which impacts this rhythm. Try to get some natural sunlight each day, with sun protection, to help your natural body clock and improve your sleep. If you can get yourself up early enough, try to watch the sunrise each day. Not only is it magical, but the sun’s first light helps to put you in a great mood and gives you energy for the day ahead. Getting up early to see the sunlight will also help you set up a pattern of going to bed a little earlier at night.
Blue lighting, which comes from our televisions, computers and smart devices, affects our circadian rhythm and keeps our bodies awake. It also reduces hormones such as melatonin, which help us relax and get to sleep.
2. Reduce blue light exposure
Many new devices now have blue light filters that you can turn on when working on, or watching the screen. If your device doesn’t have an in-built blue light filter you can either wear glasses that block blue light, download apps that block blue light on your computer and smart devices, or avoid television, computers and smart devices such as mobile phones for two hours before bedtime.
3, Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine after 3pm
Caffeine can stay in our bodies and stimulate the nervous system for up to eight hours, making it difficult to sleep when caffeine is consumed late in the day.
Try to limit the amount of caffeine you have throughout the day, replacing it with water to hydrate your system, and avoid drinking caffeine after 3pm.
4. Try to maintain a sleep routine, and avoid lengthy daytime naps
Set yourself a sleep routine that includes consistent sleeping and waking hours each day, and a bedtime routine that helps prepare your body for sleep.
When you get into a regular sleeping and waking routine, it helps your body’s circadian rhythm and supports the production of the right levels of hormones, such as melatonin, that help you sleep.
As part of this routine try to avoid daytime naps wherever possible. While short power naps can be beneficial, longer or irregular napping in the day can impact your circadian rhythm, which puts your body’s natural sleep clock out of time.
5. Avoid alcohol
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t help you sleep and, in fact causes problems such as sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns. It also dehydrates the body, which impacts the ability to have a sound night’s sleep.
Replace alcohol with water – but not too much and not too late at night so you aren’t getting up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
6. Create a bedroom for sleep
Our sleep environment goes a long way to ensuring our comfort levels and a sound night’s sleep. If your room is draughty or impacted by noise or light from outside, you won’t get a good night’s sleep.
Consider the temperature, smell, noise, light and furniture in your bedroom, including even the colours you use in your bedroom, and what will make the environment the most comfortable for you to get a good sleep.
Also invest in a comfortable and supportive bed, mattress and pillow that will help reduce your risk of joint and back pain. Aim to achieve the most relaxing, quiet, clean and safe space you can get to optimise your sleep.
7. Avoid a big meal before bed
While your stomach may be rumbling and that midnight snack is tempting, aim to keep it light otherwise your body will be working hard to digest food, and this will make it difficult to get a deep sleep.
Conversely, avoid going to bed hungry otherwise your stomach may be getting you up during the night for a feed. Try to maintain a comfortable feeling in your stomach before going to bed. Sometimes a banana and glass of milk can do the trick.
8. Clear your mind
Stress is a big factor that impacts our ability to sleep. There’s not a lot you can do late at night to solve all the stressors in your life, so there is no point stressing about them when you need to sleep. In fact, you’ll deal with stress and make better decisions after you get a good night’s sleep.
Try listening to calming music, or try meditation, a warm bath, reading a book, deep breathing or positive visualisation to help calm your mind before bed. Your bedtime routine could incorporate some of these practices so that, over time, your body knows that any of these practices indicates it’s time to go to sleep.
9. Exercise regularly but not before bed
Exercise is a great way of burning up excess energy, reducing stress, and helping your body relax for a better night’s sleep. Exercise also releases those “feel good” hormones, endorphins, that help to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, which can impact sleep.
However, keep the exercise to daylight hours and avoid exercising before bed to reduce the risk of stimulating the nervous system and increasing hormones such as adrenaline that will keep you alert and awake.
10. Assume the sleep position
When sleeping, try to avoid sleeping on your stomach because it can cause neck problems, which then leads to pain and discomfort that in turn impacts sleep.
Try to get in the habit of going to sleep on your side or on your back because this will reduce your risk of pain and discomfort, and will also provide a greater ability to breathe easier, and therefore sleep better.
If you still suffer from lack of sleep despite trying all of these methods, you may need to contact your health practitioner to confirm that you don’t have an underlying medical condition that is impacting your sleep. For example, sleep apnea causes sufferers to stop breathing during sleep, which severely impacts the quality of their sleep.
For more information about some natural approaches to helping you get to sleep contact Lane Chiropractic Pottsville on 6676 2270.