A lack or inability to get quality shut eye can be exasperating to say the least. We all have our daily duty calls that need attending to which require energy and focus. Some of us may have kids to look after while others might have to report to work early in the morning. Either way, we all need our 8 hours of quality sleep to tackle the day.
The effects of sleep deprivation are many. You may find yourself to be short-tempered; lethargic; dull and even depressed! There are more serious consequences as well. A study at Chicago Medical Institute in 2001 linked sleep deprivation to heart diseases and mental illnesses such as psychosis and bipolar disorder.
Don’t fret if you are having difficulty sleeping. Just continue reading Fitness Republic’s Tips on how to attain a good night’s sleep and you should be back on the sleeping track in no time!
Tip # 1:
Let sleep come to YOU
You do not need to chase after it. The intricate ways in which the human body works is truly wonderful. Every organ in the body works in harmony in a way that enables us to be hale and hearty. There are hormones such as melatonin which regulate sleep. See tip 14. So don’t force yourself to sleep. Go to bed when you feel sleepy.
Tip # 2:
Make a bedtime routine Indulge yourself.
Listen to relaxing music at night. Read a book of your interest when you lie down. Habits such as stretching and yoga really help relax not only ones body but also the mind. Share your thoughts with your partner or roommate; have a nice conversation. Just do things that put you in your happy place.
Tip # 3:
Don’t despair if you cannot fall asleep.
Get yourself out of bed and do something else. Typically, it’s the anxiety about why you have not been able to sleep rather than the actual lack of or inability to sleep that troubles you. Do something that makes you feel at ease. (Refer to my initial technique to sleep above). Try avoiding bright lights, coffee, cooking and reading a book or watching television if you feel it is preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. Try engaging in activities you find more soporific. Moreover, if you have trouble sleeping, try going to bed later or getting up earlier. Over the course of a few days your body will adjust to sleeping at the desired time. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep, get out of bed and return only when you are sleepy. Get up at the same time every morning, even after a bad night's sleep. The next night, you'll be sleepy at bedtime.
Tip # 4:
Forget your worries
It’s only natural to be unable to sleep if one has too much on their mind. Put your concerns behind you when you’re going to bed. Your issues can wait for one day. For now, just sleep.
Tip # 5:
Take a warm bath
A hot bath is a great way to relax your muscles and calm your mind. It doesn’t always do the trick for everyone, but it works wonders for me! It is definitely worth a shot.
Tip # 6:
Have a light snack
Hunger hinders us from being able to fall asleep. Have a light meal before bed. Avoid heavy food and chocolates - they have stimulants that will adversely affect your sleep. Remember warm milk? Yes, a glass of warm milk can do the trick. Also, bananas and turkey contain the amino acid Tryptophan which may also help you sleep.
Tip # 7:
Say “No” to Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol!
Both caffeine and nicotine should be avoided. They are stimulants that prevent one from falling asleep and then staying asleep. Beverages such as: coffee, tea, soft drinks, hot cocoa, chocolate and certain medicines contain caffeine. Cigarettes, cigars, and some drugs contain nicotine. Make sure to avoid all these products where possible. Alcohol is also to be avoided [Refer to Tip # 17]. It may relax you at first and put you to sleep, but you will wake up the moment it clears your system - and this can happen in the middle of the night.
Tip # 8:
If you feel drowsy during the day, take a power nap if you must; just make sure it’s 6 hours before your bedtime and not longer than 45 minutes. If you take too many naps during the day, you will hardly sleep at night. Try using a mattress pad. It helps make your bed more comfortable. On hot and humid days, an air conditioner is the key to good sleep. If your room is nice and cool there is a high chance that you will sleep well.
Tip # 9:
The complications of the sleeping pill
According to a 12 year Canadian study there is a link between sleeping inducing medications and long-term mortality. Consumption of sleeping pills or anxiety relieving medications was associated with a 36 percent higher death risk, the study concluded. Moreover, Dr. Daniel Kripke of University of California, San Diego claims that taking 30 or more sleeping pills a month is as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Granted that the sleeping pills that were developed in the 1990’s are less addictive and dangerous than the sleeping pills that were available before, however, they still have numerous side-effects. Most sleeping pills taken over long periods of time tend to remain in the bloodstream. This leaves the consumer with a hangover the next day, impairing memory and performance at his or her place of work and home. Also, sleeping pills may reduce your inhibitions; encouraging risky behavior. Evidence associates the consumption of sleeping pills with an increased risk of being in a car accident. Word of warning: Once you get addicted to a sleeping pill, you won’t be able to sleep without it.
Tip # 10:
Leave the bedroom for just sleep and sex
Those who find reading or television to be too stimulating should try to keep the bedroom only for sleep and sex. It is possible that an activity such as reading a book or watching TV disturbs your mind. Possibly your body is associating the bedroom with too many things. Give yourself about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you haven’t fallen asleep by then, get out of bed until you are sleepy. You can do some quiet reading outside the room but avoid TVs and computer screens as they may be too stimulating. Remember, your goal is to train yourself to fall asleep quickly.
Tip # 11:
Make an Agenda
The time you step in and out of bed should be set. This will help train your body to sleep at a certain time every day. If you keep up with this schedule for several weeks, you will probably find yourself falling asleep faster and feeling more refreshed. Try not to sleep too long on weekends or stay up late. Your body adjusts to changes in your sleep schedule at a rate of one hour per day. That means if you wake up at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, but 8:30 a.m. on weekends, you need two days to adjust. You won’t be sleeping well again until Wednesday each week.
Tip # 12:
Make a Nightly Ritual
Create a bedtime ritual that reminds you it is time to sleep. Start the ritual about 30 minutes before you lie down to help let go of stressful thoughts and naturally be prepared to sleep once you lie down. As mentioned earlier a little light reading (not in bed!) or a warm bath can be great. They are more successful than an activity such as watching TV, which as mentioned before, stimulates your brain.
Tip # 13:
A Must Exercising on a daily basis increases your chances of falling asleep quickly and sleeping deeply. However, exercising too late in the day can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Try to exercise early in the day and not within 3 hours of your bedtime. Daily exercising habits will not only help you sleep well but will also improve your overall health.
Tip # 14:
Get On the Bright Side
Try to stay on the bright side of things! Sunlight helps regulate your circadian clock which makes you feels sleepy at night by stimulating your body to produce melatonin (a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle). Make sure to expose yourself to light during the day. Morning sunlight exposure is particularly helpful. Be sure to open the drapes every morning to let light in.
Tip # 15:
Shun Caffeine in the Afternoon
Some people are sensitive to caffeine which means caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee should be avoided at least six hours prior to sleeping. If you still have trouble sleeping, try avoiding caffeine in general.
Tip # 16:
Keep Your Bedroom Dark
The contrast between brightness in the day and darkness at night helps reinforce your circadian clock. Closing drapes and doors when you want to sleep can help reduce the light in your bedroom. By making your bedroom dark, your body will associate it with sleeping, enabling you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Tip # 17:
Keep away from Alcohol
After an evening drink, you may fall asleep just fine, but chances are that you will wake up in the middle of the night. This is caused by a rebound in blood sugar and withdrawal from the alcohol after it is metabolized. For every drink you have, give your body at least an hour to process it before trying to fall asleep. Try avoiding alcohol right before your bedtime and notice if you sleep more soundly.
Tip # 18:
Stay Smoke-Free Previously
mentioned in Tip # 7, nicotine found in cigarettes is a stimulant that keeps you awake, which is just one of the evils that smoking does to your body. Worse yet, smokers tend to wake up early because of the nicotine withdrawal. Don’t worry if you currently smoke, it is never too late to quit! Many resources are available to help smokers quit. The benefits of quitting include a reduced risk of smoking induced diseases such as cancer & heart trouble, increased energy and a good night’s sleep.
Tip # 19
Consult a Doctor
At last, if these lifestyle changes don’t help, contact your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder or just may need some temporary medical assistance to get yourself back in good “sleep shape.”