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There are few among us who aren't curious about how to sleep better. Ensuring a good night's sleep is crucial, especially when we feel deprived of rest and it is important to be aware of the signs of sleep deprivation. While some factors affecting sleep may be beyond our control, focusing on what we can influence can significantly improve the quality of our rest.
Adequate sleep not only benefits our physical health but also enhances emotional well-being, leading to a more positive daytime experience. Let's explore some tips to help optimize your sleep routine and understand how to sleep better:
To enhance your bedtime experience, establish a consistent wake-up time every day of the week. Regularity signals your body's sleep efficiency and helps synchronize your internal clock. Utilize light exposure in the morning to awaken your brain and body, avoiding the temptation to hit the snooze button. Allow yourself ample time in the morning for a stress-free start by prioritizing your morning routine. Throughout the day, take breaks from technology and engage in light and outdoor activities to promote alertness.
Be mindful of your eating habits and how they impact your sleep. Consider avoiding caffeine, especially after lunchtime, as it may affect your ability to achieve restful sleep. Also, be conscious of other stimulants like high-sugar foods and energy drinks. Avoid large meals, alcohol and spicy foods too close to bedtime as they can have a negative impact. Instead, opt for smaller meals and include sleep-promoting foods such as wholemeal, whole-wheat, turkey, lettuce, banana, warm milk, or honey.
Prioritize your sleep environment and use your senses to create a tranquil haven that promotes relaxation and reduces hyper-vigilance. Declutter your bedroom to reflect a peaceful mindset. Pay attention to the colours and decor, as they can influence your experience. If you use your bedroom as an office, create a clear distinction between your workspace and sleep area. Ensure your bed is spacious enough for comfort, replace your mattress every 7 years, and choose bedding and clothes that provide comfort and relaxation. Embrace natural scents with essential oils or candles instead of synthetic fragrances.
Make your bedroom cave-like when it's time for sleep. Ensure that curtains and blinds effectively block outside light. If needed, use an eye mask to protect your sleep from interfering with melatonin production. Keep your bedroom cool, as a cooler environment aids sleep onset latency. Incorporate 2-4 sleep-promoting activities into your wind-down routine, such as gentle stretching, listening to audiobooks or music, practicing meditation, or reading.
Go to bed only when you feel tired to promote a healthy sleep-wake rhythm. Incorporate familiar steps before sleep, such as gentle stretching exercises, reading, or listening to calming music. If you struggle to quiet your mind, try journaling a few hours before bedtime to alleviate concerns. Breathing exercises can also help you relax and focus. Here's a simple breathing awareness exercise you can try:
External noises can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause you to awaken during the night, resulting in a reduction in sleep quality. External noises may be out of your control, but you can limit the disruption by closing any doors or windows that may dampen the noise.
You can also listen to relaxing and comforting music, white noises or meditative podcasts which may help to drown the noise out while simultaneously creating an environment of relaxation that is conducive to sleeping.
It is widely acknowledged that exposure to blue light can affect the quality of your sleep. Digital screens and electronic devices including TV’s, PC’s, laptops, tablets and phones are all sources of blue light.
Research has shown that exposure to blue light stimulates alertness and blocks melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy! This means do not watch TV close to bedtime and no endless scrolling on your mobile phone!
The right mattress is the foundation to a good night’s sleep.
If you feel like everything else in your sleep environment is in place and you still can’t get a good night’s sleep then perhaps it’s time to change your mattress.
If you suffer from an ailment, such as a bad back, mattress selection is even more important and a specialist mattress, in this case an orthopaedic mattress is likely to be your best option.
Having the best pillow for your specific needs is a crucial component of a good sleep environment. In addition to having the right mattress, pillows play an important role keeping the head aligned with the neck and body during sleep and ensuring the spine is in a neutral position, which helps to alleviate pressure points, minimising aches and pains.
Smell is a very powerful sense! We associate scents with different states of emotion, experiences and memories, which is why it can play such an important role in your sleep environment. If you have trouble relaxing and unwinding as you lay in bed ready for sleep, essential oils could help when it comes to getting you in the right mindset.
Getting into a clean bed with fresh sheets after a long day has got to be one of the best feelings ever! Having the right bedding on your bed is a critical component as it will impact on your comfort in more ways than one.
Some points to consider when selecting your bedding:
Make sure you buy the right size of bedding for your mattress or bed. Bed sheets that untuck during the night and duvets that are too small for the mattress will interfere with your sleep and leave you unrested and irritable.
By implementing these simple steps, you can improve the quality of your sleep, leading to a more refreshed and energized state during the day. Establishing a regular sleep routine, being mindful of eating habits, creating a soothing sleep environment, optimizing darkness and temperature, and incorporating relaxation techniques can all contribute to a restful night's sleep. Prioritize your well-being by investing in quality rest, and you'll experience the positive impacts in your daily life.
Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep Consultant, Co-creational Relationship Mentor, Post-Graduate Researcher (PhD), Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world. See www.sleepmatters.ie | +35387 2683584 or| email@example.com