Five Tips To Get That Elusive Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is recognized as the one surefire elixir for the body-mind. It allows both to fully relax and self-cleanse and also rejuvenates us for the day ahead. — Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM
The inability to sleep and stay asleep at night is a pain in the head, literally. If you’re going through this, you are not alone. About two-thirds of American adults suffer from various forms of insomnia making for a very sleepy country in the morning.
Don’t fret, however. Insomnia is not a condition without a cure. And many insomnia remedies don’t involve downing sleeping pills. Here are my five proven-and-tested tips for paving your way to sweet dreamland.
The Importance of Sleep
Your sleeping time needs change with your age. Babies have the longest sleep time needs while adults, in general, can get by with 7-9 hours of good night’s sleep each day. Our sleep quality and quantity play significant roles in our overall wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional health-wise and our quality of living. Most importantly, it also factors in our safety.
Opposite to this, lack of sleep equally results to lack of concentration and a decrease in the ability to make good decisions. As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that drowsy driving causes some 6,000 fatal automobile accidents annually. Additionally, lack of sleep in quality and measure has adverse effects on our physical and mental health.
We cannot fight of flee if we’re asleep, so the limbic system shouts, “Stay awake!” This response is wonderful if we’re being chased by a bear, but it creates problems when we need to rest. — Lauren Woolley, PhD
So, how do we remedy this?
- Have a sleep schedule and stick to it even on weekends.
Our bodies have internal clocks that determine our sleep-wake patterns. It’s our internal clocks – called circadian rhythm – that is at work when we wake up at the same time every morning even without the aid of an alarm clock.
When we deviate from our usual sleep schedules (like sleeping longer or later during the weekends), we throw our internal clocks out of the loop which could result in insomnia. To prevent this, it’s best if we stick to our sleep schedules as religiously as we can.
- Increase your exposure to sunlight.
One study found out that an increased exposure to natural daylight, even if it’s just from the windows, also increases a person’s ability to sleep longer at night. The study took into account office workers subjected to 173% daylight during their work hours. This same group experienced an increase in their nighttime sleep by up to 46 minutes.
Accordingly, sunlight helps to regulate our internal clocks. After all, waking up when it’s daytime and feeling sleepy when our surrounding gets dark is part of our nature.
…recent research indicates that Vitamin D may influence both sleep quality and sleep quantity. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.
- Do your exercise routine in the morning.
Experts say that exercising in the morning makes you a better sleeper at night because of these reasons:
- Exercise serves as a brain kick-starter just like how sunlight signals us that it’s time to wake up.
- Morning exercises also aid in the body releasing melatonin, our sleep hormones, earlier at night.
While exercising in the morning is good for getting a good night’s sleep, exercising later in the day does the opposite.
“Exercising increases our body temperatures. We lower our body temperatures intrinsically for sleep and rest to set in. So we should focus on that during the latter part of our day for us to get a better snooze time and quality,” says one holistic health advocate.
- Minimize your blue light exposure.
Contrary to how natural daylight exposure positively affects our sleep quality, the blue light our gadgets emit disrupts our sleep patterns. This is because it hinders our body from producing and releasing sleep hormones that serve as our signal to nod off.
Browsing through our gadgets can also over-stimulate our brains causing restlessness.
- Eat your way to better sleep.
Remember that glass of warm milk your mom always makes you drink before bedtime? Turns out, milk really is a sleep-inducing food. So are tryptophan-rich fares like eggs, salmon, and tofu, bananas, as well as magnesium and melatonin-rich foods like tomatoes, grapes, and cereals.
On contrary, steer clear away from caffeine-laden drinks like coffee and soft drinks in the middle of the day (no matter how much you want to get your caffeine fix after lunch!). This is because caffeine has a long half-life. It’s still in your system 7-8 hours after you’ve taken it in! And it is a known fact that the substance is a stimulant.
Eating heavy meals close to your bedtime is also a no as you’ll most likely suffer from digestive dilemmas like heartburn later on that could cause sleeplessness.