If there’s one sound I hate, it’s the sound of my alarm clock in the morning! You could say that I’m not a morning person. At all! While that’s my nature and it probably will never change, I can probably make some changes in my sleep schedule that can help make those mornings less brutal for me. Individual sleep needs vary, but the average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re interested, here’s a link to a sleep chart with sleep recommendations for every age.
In any case, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for overall health. Some of us have to fight to stay awake until bedtime, while others find themselves frustrated, counting sheep for hours every night. If you need some help to fall asleep and wake up refreshed, you might find this coupon for a drug-free sleep aid helpful. In any case, all of us would do well to follow what is known as good sleep hygiene. Yup that’s what I said: sleep hygiene. It’s an interesting term but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense; after all, hygiene is a set of practices that are set up to maintain good health, and sleep is an important component of good health.
Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Avoid napping during the day, especially in the afternoon. This seems obvious- it will prevent you from feeling sleepy enough at bedtime.
- Get enough regular exercise, but not within two hours of bedtime, which can leave you feeling overly stimulated and energetic.
- Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol (yes, alcohol!) 4-6 hours before bed.
- Don’t eat too much before bedtime. Avoid heavy, spicy, and sugary foods before bed.
- But don’t go to bed hungry, either, since that can keep you up, too. If you’re hungry, eat a light snack that will help stimulate sleep inducing chemicals in your body. Examples of good bedtime snacks are half a turkey sandwich, a small bowl of whole grain cereal with low fat milk or yogurt, or a banana.
- Stick to a regular bedtime routine. That will tell your body that it’s time to start winding down. Take a warm bath, listen to soft music, read a book. Those are all relaxing activities that will help soothe and calm your body and brain for sleep.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day in order to establish a regular sleep/wake cycle.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment. An uncomfortable pillow and mattress can really ruin your night. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature; if it’s too hot or too cold it will affect your sleep. Be careful to block out noise and light. Consider a while noise machine if that helps you, and earplugs if you really can’t control the noise around you. (Snoring partner, anyone?)
- Use your bed only for sleep. No working in bed! And watching TV in bed is not such a great idea, after all. Or any screens for that matter, since the light can mess with your melatonin- a hormone that affects your sleep. If you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes, get up, do something relaxing, and then come back to bed when you feel drowsy.
And finally, just relax. Do what you can to not feel stressed in the evening because that will help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep. Sweet dreams!