Are you falling asleep on the couch after dinner only to be wide-awake once you get into bed? What’s up with that? There is such a thing as “sleep hygiene” and researchers have found specific and regular practices that you can follow to make sure that you get a restful night’s sleep, every time. Ruling out pregnancy, diagnosed sleep apnea, shift work, or sickness, these practices over time can show great results.
Follow these steps to help change the insomnia cycle and make restful sleep a habit.
Keep to a Schedule
Bedtime and wake up should be at the same time every day. Yes, weekends included. Your body gets easily accustomed to patterns and can easily be thrown off. When events prevent this, get back into your usual schedule right away.
Yes, those few moments of shut eye before dinner after a long stressful day or afternoon need for a snooze can throw off your internal clock. When you are feeling sleepy, drink a full 8 ounces of water and see how you perk up! Sometimes dehydration causes sleepiness and most people will typically grab a coffee instead of a full glass of water.
For many people, a shot of espresso minutes before bedtime will lull them to sleep. For the rest of us, it’s a total and complete sleep deprivation! Avoid any caffeinated beverage or food such as chocolate after 3pm. If you need that afternoon pick me up to get you to 5pm, drink lots of water or veggies with some protein like peanut butter.
Cocktails or night caps are a regular practice at the end of the day. Although alcohol may induce sleep in some instances, once the body begins to metabolize the sugar, that’s it… you’re fully awake.
Avoid Vigorous Exercise
Exercise is a good thing for overall health but a vigorous work out in theory would make you tired, it won’t encourage sleep. Keep these types for earlier in the day and keep to a restorative yoga before bed which is known for helping the body relax.
Avoid Midnight Snacks
If you love your bowl of cereal or salami sandwich before bed, you are looking at a rough night. This may not have affected you when you were a teenager but as we age our metabolism slows down. Our nutritional needs change, as well as how our bodies metabolize food.
Eating a light supper with a balance of grains, vegetables, and protein by 7pm would be best. A decaffeinated beverage or lots of water with no dessert or a low in sugar fruit to finish off your dinner will not adversely affect your sleep. No food should be consumed after this point. If you are hungry, drink water instead.
Take a Walk in Nature
A leisurely walk around your neighborhood after dinner will help with digestion and a fresh dose of oxygen will help relax your body and encourage sleep. Make this a daily habit to get in some exercise, and to see what’s new in your neighborhood.
Keep Your Bed for Sleep
Keep watching TV or reading for another spot in your home. When you associate your bedroom with resting and sleeping, a space to recharge and rejuvenate, your body will begin to automatically condition itself to this environment and allow sleep to come quicker and easier.
Regulate Temperature and Lighting
Ensure that the temperature in your bedroom is neither too hot nor cold. Choose your favourite temperature and stick to it. Whatever you need to make that happen be it an air conditioner, a fan, a heater, a quilt, a duvet or grandma’s blanket. Moreover, studies show that even a sliver of light coming into the bedroom can disrupt your sleep. If your curtains are sheer than wear a sleep mask.
Keep It Quiet
If you live near a busy street, or highway or perhaps have a whistling old radiator that discharges every hour on the hour, consider ear plugs. Use white noise or pink noise to cancel out external noise. When you can pick up the frequency, it will be constant and it will drown out any spontaneous or outdoor noises.
Accessories such as the perfect sheets and comforters can contribute to improving your sleep experience as will a brand new mattress when yours is older than 10 years. Consult with the Sleep Experts at your local BrandSource store to help you make the perfect choice.
Angela, Your Sleep Expert