Sleep is often the first casualty when life gets hectic. Work and socializing gobble up hours and when you do get into bed it is hard to switch off. A good night’s sleep is essential, however, to functioning at your best. It enhances your physical and mental well-being, and gives you the energy you need to tackle your busy life. These simple tips will help you sleep well every night so you can be your best self every day.
1. WORK UP A SWEAT
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for a good night’s sleep. The immediate effect is to make you physically tired. Over time exercise can lower your blood pressure, resting heart rate and stress levels, all of which help you sleep better. If you going to workout prior to sleep make sure that you do it at least 2 hours prior to sleep. You want body temperature to cool off first.
2. CREATE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Anyone who’s ever put a child to bed knows the importance of routine. It works for grown-ups too. Create a ritual to shift your body and mind in sleep mode. Turn on relaxing music, brush and floss, sip herbal tea, read a spiritual book or meditate.
3. WRITE IN A ‘WORRY JOURNAL’
Keep a notebook and pen by your bed. If your brain starts to churn spend 10-15 minutes writing down what’s bothering you. This lets you control your thoughts and helps shut down the mental chatter so you can sleep.
4. EAT LIGHT
You might feel groggy after a big dinner but your digestive system has to work all night. This will affect the quality of your sleep, give you indigestion, and contribute to weight gain. Try a bedtime snack of nuts, seeds, or banana – these are all high in the amino acid tryptophan which aids sleep.
5. GET YOUR VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Magnesium deficiency is implicated in insomnia, and low potassium can cause trouble staying asleep. Eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds. Leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard are also a good source of potassium, as are sweet potatoes, bananas and broccoli. B-vitamins are known to alleviate insomnia – get them from leafy greens and eggs.
6. SKIP THE NIGHTCAP (AND AFTER-DINNER COFFEE)
Contrary to popular belief, booze before bed is a bad idea. Its depressant effect may help you drift off but alcohol is notorious for disrupting sleep. Avoid caffeine late in the day: coffee, black and green tea, caffeinated soft drinks and rich chocolate desserts will all keep you wide-eyed.
7. TRY HERBAL REMEDIES
Herbal aids can enhance rest without the side-effects of sleeping pills. Have a cup of hot chamomile or valerian tea with honey. Evening primrose and lavendar have soothing properties – try a few drops of essential oil on your pillow.
8. GET THE RIGHT PILLOW
Be sure you have a comfortable pillow that is appropriate for your sleeping style. If you sleep on your back or side, you need a supportive pillow to align your spine. Stomach-sleepers should use a flat pillow, or none at all, to avoid neck strain.
9. STRIKE A (YOGA) POSE
Half-tortoise pose, where you kneel Japanese-style clasp your hands over your head and bow forward with arms extended; and child’s pose where you kneel then spread your knees and relax your upper body forward to rest your forehead on the floor, gently stretch and balance your body, aiding relaxation.
10. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Regular, deep breathing is a hallmark of healthy sleep. Breathe in for a count of four, and out for a count of four. Enhance the relaxing effect by visualizing the air moving in a circular rhythm through your body, or repeating a word like “peace” or “calm” with each breath.
11. DARKEN YOUR ROOM
Darkness stimulates melatonin production, which lowers your blood pressure, glucose levels, and body temperature to aid sleep, so make your bedroom as dark as possible. Power off TV, laptop, tablet, phone, etc – better still, move them to another room. Use blackout curtains or eyeshades to elimate ambient light.