How you feel when you wake up depends on how well you sleep. Your quality of rest can depend on your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices. You should first find out how much sleep you need. Sleep requirements vary from person to person. It is recommended that a person should get eight hours of sleep each night to function at their best.
The following tips can help you sleep so you can be productive, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long. What works for some might not work for others. It’s important to find the sleep strategies that work best for you.
- Set a bedtime routine: Keep a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning. This will help you to feel energized each morning. Pick a time where you feel tired so you don’t toss all night. If you need to change the bedtime, do so in small increments so your body can adjust. It may take time for your body to get used to waking up and sleeping the same time each night, but consistency is important. If you find yourself sleepy before your bedtime, get up and do something mildly stimulating to avoid sleeping.
- Adjust your body clock:Your sleep is affected by the amount of light of day and the dark of the night. If their is light out, your retina sends signals to your brain, suppressing the production of melatonin, convincing the brain that it is daytime. The same is true when it is night. The retina send information to your brain that it is night thus producing melatonin to induce sedation. The amount of light you are exposed to affects your sleep. You want to increase your exposure to light in the daytime to set your body clock to match the day/night cycle. At night, you want to do the opposite. Try not to look at your computer before you go to bed because the light tricks your brain, thus adjusting to a daytime pattern and suppresses the secretion of melatonin which is what you need to sleep.
- Relaxing bedtime routine: Try to block outside noise from creeping into your bedroom. Use a fan, recording of soothing sounds, or sound machine. Also, keep your room cool. The temperature of your bedroom affects your sleep. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can affect sleep. Creating bedtime rituals can help in telling your mind and body that it is almost time to sleep such as reading a book or taking a warm bath before you settle down for the night.
- Exercise: Exercising has a calming effect on your body and it helps you to sleep. Exercising three to six hours before bedtime is ideal because exercising elevates your heart rate and body temperature, but there is still enough time for your heart rate and body temperature to drop before you go to bed. Having a cool body temperature helps to promote sleep.
- Eat right: Stay away from heavy, rich meals at night. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest which can keep you up. Eating complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, whole grains, drinking warm milk can help in sleeping better.Avoid protein snacks because it blocks the synthesis of serotonin and promotes alertness. Avoid caffeine and drinking too many liquids at night. This will result in many trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
- Try reducing your anxiety and stress:In my previous blog post Natural Ways to Cope with Panic and Anxiety Attacks, I listed ways to help reduce anxiety. Try some of the techniques mentioned to see which one best works for you in reducing your anxiety and stress. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization and progressive muscle relaxation before you go to bed is a great way to settle down and calm your mind.
- Don’t fight to sleep: If you are unable to sleep, leave your bed and engage in some relaxing activity, such as listening to relaxing tape and do not go to bed until you feel sleepy. Fighting yourself to sleep can actually keep you up because you are thinking and forcing yourself to sleep.
- Avoid stimulants: Avoid alcohol, nicotine, sugar, or caffeine within 4 hours of going to bed. If you need to drink coffee, have it in the morning so by the time you are about to go to bed, the caffeine does not keep you up.
- Your bed is for sleep: Try to avoid non-sleeping activities in bed such as doing work. You want to associate your bed with sleep and not with work or other non-sleeping activities.
- Mental and medical health: Get a full physical exam to rule out medical problems or side effects to any medication you may be taking. For persistent sleep problems, your doctor can refer you to a sleep center to do further testing. You should also talk to a therapist to rule out psychological causes of sleep disturbance.
Image taken from keepingyouwell.com
Last reviewed: 13 Feb 2014
Nieves, H. (2014). Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. Psych Central.
Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mental-health-awareness/2014/02/getting-a-goods-night-sleep/