5 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight
The importance of a good night’s sleep is not to be underestimated. With the ability to seriously affect mood, mental health, cognitive ability, cardiac health and your immune system, good quality, regular sleep is non-negotiable. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep night after night, read on to find out how to make changes now and sleep better and deeper tonight…
1. Set the scene
In order to maximise and maintain good sleep habits, your bedroom needs to feel like a bedroom. That means doing away with distractions and devices (no more emails from bed) and creating an enticing space that’s all about relaxation; the more you enter into a sleep mindset in your bedroom, the easier it will be to start associating time spent in that room with sleep. Likewise, look to adjust the temperature of your room. If it’s too hot or too cold, you’ll find it hard to switch off and will be more concerned with removing or replacing bed covers than being relaxed enough to drift off. Ideally your bedroom should be between 60 – 67°F, so if anything on the cooler side.
2. Set limits
Devices are part and parcel of normal time so it’s unrealistic to assume we can do away with them altogether. What you can do is control the amount of time you spend on them, particularly before bed. Blue light pollution from our devices is not only bad news for our skin and our eyes, exposure to it right before bed suppresses melatonin production, the hormone that helps you sleep. That leads to too much stimulation and disrupted sleep when you do drift off. If your phone has a night-time mode, make sure you use it, as not only will it help you set boundaries for usage, the change in light to something more mellow will serve you well. If not, then switch it into airplane mode about an hour before you want to go to bed so that you can’t be disturbed with notifications. If you can, leave your phone in another room so you’re not tempted to check it should you wake up in the night.
3. Use an alarm
Setting a proper sleep routine is of utmost importance. Use an alarm clock (not the alarm function on your phone) to set a bedtime and then set a morning alarm, for around 7-9 hours later. This will help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which is essential if you want to foster long-term healthy habits. Try to stick to the same routine every day, even on the weekends. Even though it might feel like a luxury to allow yourself a lie-in once or twice a week if you’ve lost sleep during the week, it’s not a viable or healthy way to ‘catch up’ and will only throw out your pattern and make it harder to wake up earlier again on a Monday morning.
4. Eat right
Eating the right food before bed can hugely impact the quality of your sleep. Look for foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts the hormone serotonin, the precursor the melatonin, which you need for sleep. Tryptophan is mainly found in protein, so upping your intake of chicken and turkey in your evening meal is a good way to get it in. Pairing your protein with a carbohydrate will go one step further and make tryptophan more available to the brain, so add some potatoes, rice or sweet potatoes alongside your protein source.
5. Let some light in
Exposing yourself to bright daylight as soon as you wake up, helps you regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Just as you need it to be dark for your body to produce melatonin for sleep, you want it to be light in the morning so that your body knows to ease up. As well as getting your daylight fix when you wake, keep it up throughout the day, only allowing yourself to reduce your exposure the nearer it gets to bedtime. That means taking a break outside during the working day if you can, perhaps doing your daily workout routine outdoors and making sure all blinds and curtains stay open wherever you’re spending the day.
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