How to get better sleep
Originally posted this past October, I recently needed to reference these tips, as my own quality of sleep had diminished substantially over a few weeks. The rush of the holiday season combined with work and family obligations had all contributed to a system overload that required some rebooting.
If you find yourself in the same position, I urge you to try and get better sleep following some (or all) of the below tips. Sleep recharges our batteries and better prepares us for all the new challenges of 2016.
When we are sleeping well, we rarely contemplate the importance of it. But, a few bad nights and suddenly, sleep becomes the most important aspect of our lives.
This is what has recently happened in my world. So, I explored why sleep is so important and what I could do that would get me back on track to a good night of rest. Here are some of my findings.
The Benefits of Sleep
People who sleep seven hours or less per night, are three times more likely to develop a cold virus than those who sleep at least eight hours.
Studies have shown that we process memories while we sleep. A lack of sleep or poor sleep may contribute to our brain’s inability to properly store our day’s activities and create new memories.
Improved decision making
“Sleeping on it” actually works. Our brains try to work out problems, even in our sleep. We may not wake up with a solution but we will be better equipped to make one after a solid night of sleep.
Some sleep studies have shown a correlation between improved pain tolerance and adequate sleep.
Better sex life
The simple truth is, most people aren’t interested in sex when they are chronically tired. Ask most couples that are working and raising a family what their sex life is like!? Better sleep can result in a renewed sex drive.
When we sleep poorly, we tend to be irritable, with much less patience for our family, friends and colleagues. There is wisdom in the Irish proverb “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything”.
Maintain healthy weight
Firstly, if we are poorly rested we are more likely to skip our exercise routine. Additionally, sleep contributes to the production of leptin, the hormone that helps us feel full.
How to get Better Sleep
Increase your exposure to natural light
Remove your sunglasses when you are outside and get as much light into your home or office as possible during the day.
All it takes is 30 minutes a day to help improve the quality of your sleep.
Avoid excessive caffeine
Caffeine consumption, even 10-12 hours prior to bed time, can affect on your sleep.
If stress and worry is keeping you up at night it is imperative that you practice a form of stress management. Yoga and meditation can work wonders on an overactive brain and greatly contribute to the quality of your sleep.
Decrease your exposure to television, computer and smartphone screens before bed.
Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bed.
Make sure your room is cool
Try to always sleep with a window open, even in cooler weather.
Add a relaxation technique
Try deep breathing (close your eyes and take long, deep breaths) or progressive muscle relaxation (starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up.).
Finally, if you wake during the night, stay out of your head! Focus on the sensations in your body or your breathing.