How Can I Get a Better Night’s Sleep?
1 – Exercise more!
Unfortunately, our fast-paced, desk-bound lifestyles don’t allow for much in the way of physical exertion, unless we make a concerted effort to exercise regularly. When we exert ourselves earlier during the day, it makes our sleeping hours deeper and more satisfying. Now, you might say, I’m just simply too tired to exercise! That is true from time to time, but even a simple walk around your neighborhood will help improve the quality of your sleep. Even making simple changes to incorporate more activity and movement into your day will help you sleep better.
2 – Have a Routine
Mom was right when she marched you into the bathroom every night at the same time to brush your teeth, read a story and go to bed. Having a bedtime “routine” is a great way to slowly wind down and tell your body to relax so you can go to bed. That wind-down is different for everyone, and may include a hot bath, a good book, a cup of herbal tea, or zoning out on the couch. One thing to keep out of your routine – tense or dramatic shows right before bed (and this includes the news). Try to watch those programs at least a few hours before you intend to turn it in for the night.
3 – Go to Sleep with an Empty Belly
Eating food right before bed will almost always upset your slumber. Now, instead of focusing on sleeping your body is focused on digesting! In some cultures, it is actually their custom to eat nothing after dark. I recommend to my patients that they not eat within at least 2-3 hours of bedtime. An added perk – this will encourage weight loss if you’re a nighttime snacker! All those calories get turned into fat if you don’t burn them, so better to save the eating for your waking hours.
4 – Avoid Stimulants
All the coffee lovers out there are cringing right now, but this rule also applies to soda, juice, tea, and the many energy drinks currently on the market. Everyone is sensitive to stimulants to a different degree – for some people this means no coffee after noon, for others none after 6pm. Find your limit and respect it.
5 – Make your Bedroom a Sleep-Friendly Place
This means make sure that your room is a dark and quiet place. Do the dogs snore loudly enough to wake the neighbors? Consider moving them to another room. Are the neighbor’s porch lights streaming in through your open blinds? Close them. Our neurological systems are very sensitive to these cues that it’s time to go to bed, and will actually change levels of certain hormones in response to light and noise cues.